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Is There a Difference Between a Nurse Practitioner a Physician’s Nurse Assistant

Is There a Difference Between a Nurse Practitioner a Physician’s Nurse Assistant

Nowadays, many doctors rarely see patients for a routine physical examination. A patient is more likely to get an appointment with a Physician Assistant (PA) or an NP (Nurse Practitioner) working in practice. These professionals are at a level of healthcare and medical professionals created within the last two decades to keep up with increasing needs for special health care.

These positions are the cause of repeated debate on whether there is a difference in the two.

Both professional are or similar in some way but there is a subtle difference, It is essential first to understand the definition of each profession.

A nurse practitioner

Nurse practitioners have a Master's degree in advanced practice nursing. They have the autonomy to diagnose and treat patients without supervision by doctors. An NP has more advanced that a PA regarding academic studies and experience. They begin as registered nurses, but on acquiring the practitioner's certification, they advance from Bachelor’s to Master's Degree and even a doctoral degree for some before qualifying for the position through a national examination. Nurse practitioners must follow up their credentials with continuing education and recertify their positions after a specified number of years. NPs also apply for additional responsibilities at State level.

Physician Assistant

Physician Assistants help doctors in surgical procedures but have no license to perform surgery alone. A doctor work is autonomous, but PAs must always work under a doctor. To become a physician assistant, you must earn an MSN degree and take a national certification exam. In the US it is known as PANCE. If you pass the exam and state licensure, you start to practice under a physician. A Physician Assistant like a Nurse Practitioner has to pursue continued education and recertify after an amount of time by sitting for another exam like the one called PANRE in the USA.

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Main difference between Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant


NP: The type of training that nurses in these two fields receive is one of the main differences. Their training makes them have a different philosophical approach to patient care. Physicians take a longer time to complete their education as the focus of their training is the study of disease. Many NPs already have skills and experience before they advance their education and training to make them suitable for advanced practice. A nurse practitioner qualified by taking a more particular examination of the focus population such as geriatrics and pediatrics on top of their BN experience. NPs diagnose, treat and prescribe medicine but must apply to the state for the additional responsibilities.

PA: Physician assistants qualify via a general medical examination without a requirement to complete a residency. They train to diagnose illnesses, offer treatment and prescribe medication nut sine they practice under a doctor, they do not apply to the state for additional responsibilities.

Working hours

NP: Since a nursing practitioner may work solo in many states, it gives the person more autonomy to decide on the number of hours they work and even when to go for duty. The trend only changes when the work by an NP is dependent on another medical professional. At all other times, NPs have more discretion than PAs on their routine and professional lives.

PA: Any Physician Assistant has to work with a qualified physician hence do not have liberty to decide their schedule. They have to work for some hours that are close if not equal to those by their supervising.

Programs and specialty

NP: Programs for the nurse practitioners usually are shorter than those of the physician assistants. The reason is that NPs choose a specific specialty which requires them to complete 500 class lessons and 500 to 700 clinical hours.

PA: The training for Physician Assistants is for general medicine to prepare them to serve wider subsections of a population than Nurse Practitioners. A program for a PA requires 1,000 classroom hours. He or she must also complete 2,000 or more clinical setting hours.

At first glance, Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant seem to perform the same roles, but as we have seen, there are apparent differences. However, both involve themselves in treating patients, unlike RNs whose work restricts them to patient care.