Most times, students who want to pursue a career in the medical field find it difficult to differentiate Nursing practitioners from Physician Assistants. Although the two professions have to do with attending to patients and offering medical treatments, there is a whole lot of difference that made them distinct from each other. In this post, we will be looking at the Nurse Practitioner vs Physician Assistant comparison in so many areas like Cost, Salary, and Job Outlooks.
Generally, both the Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant are seen as advanced practice providers and vital assets to the healthcare community. And also, they are designed to meet the ever-growing demand for primary care providers.
Also, nurse practitioners and Physician Assistants’ work environment is a bit the same. They can work in physician’s offices, hospitals, and clinics. Once their master’s degrees ready, they must pursue licensure and pass national certification exams before they can practice professionally.
Despite their similarities and overlapping functions, they differ in their own unique ways. This article on Nurse Practitioner vs Physician Assistant with the aim of helping you get in-depth understanding and knowledge about these two professions.
After reading this post, you will be able to know their job outlooks, the cost of getting any of the degrees, specialization and so many other things. That is to tell you that, if you really want to go for any of the professions or you are among the folks that often get these two professions mixed up, this post is just for you.
Make sure you avail yourself of the opportunity to read this post word to word without skimming because you will be so glad you did. But before then, you can scroll the table of contents below to get an overview of all that this post entails.
Who Is a Nurse Practitioner?
According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, nurse practitioners (NPs) are licensed, autonomous clinicians focused on managing people’s health conditions and preventing disease.
Wikipedia defines him or her as an advanced practice registered nurse and a type of mid-level practitioner trained to assess patient needs, order and interpret diagnostic and laboratory tests, diagnose disease, formulate and prescribe treatment plans.
That means, a Nurse Practitioner is a licensed clinician or Advanced practice registered nurse whose responsibilities revolve around providing primary, acute, chronic, and specialty care to patients of all ages, depending on their field of practice.
Who is a Physician Assistant?
According to Wikipedia, A physician Assistant is a highly qualified physician in medicine. A physician Assistant can be self-employed and excluded from physicians or in co-operation with physicians, according to local or local lawmaking PAs.
Generally, a Physician assistant works directly under the supervision of physicians in providing support to healthcare teams. Also known as PA, a physician assistant is a licensed member of a medical team that includes doctors, surgeons, nurses, and other healthcare professionals.
To become a physician assistant, read this: How To Become A Physician Assistant | Descriptions, Salary, Cost, Schools
You can see from the definitions above, they have the same area of interests and responsibilities which I think has been bringing about the mix-up.
Let’s take a look at there functions and compare.
What Are The Similarities Between Nurse Practitioner vs Physician Assistant?
Though these two professions are not the same, there are some areas that make them similar.
First, both the Nurse Practitioner vs Physician Assistant requires to get a master’s degree in their discipline before practicing their profession. So, if you want to build a career in any of them, you must get a Graduate degree from their specialized schools.
Secondly, there work setting are the same. That means whether you are a Nurse practitioner or Physician Assistant, you can work at a physician’s offices, hospitals, and clinics once you have gotten your master’s degrees.
And before you can practice your profession whether as a nurse practitioner or Physician Assistance, you must pursue licensure and pass national certification exams.
Moreso, both can perform several of the same day-to-day duties as physicians and typically work under the supervision of a physician.
In addition, although there responsibilities are not the same, there objectives are build on the same foundation which is to advance education and training to enable greater autonomy in practice.
Note, there are some of the responsibilities that the both can perform. That means in a situation where a Nurse Practitioner is not available, a Physician Assistant can still perform the same function without it been illegal.
Some of those roles includes;
- Prescribe medication for a patient who is sick
- Keeping the medical histories of a patient or patients.
- Carrying out physical assessments and examinations
- Handling any patient with a common injury
- Give vaccinations, screenings, and physicals
- Perform and interpret diagnostic and laboratory studies
- Educate patients about health and nutrition matters.
- Screen and refer patients to specialists and other health care providers
Having seen their Similarities lets take a look at their differences.
What Are The Difference Between Nurse Practitioner vs Physician Assistant?
This is one question that most students do ask. there are big differences in both careers. Yes, these professions come with mouth-watery salaries and responsibilities that are well recognized, they still differ in some areas.
Some of the areas includes;
Now, lets take them one after the other
#1. Np vs PA Roles and Responsibilities
This is the main factor that differentiates both careers. Though you can work in the medical field whether as a Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant, roles differ a lot.
Nurse Practitioner Roles
If you are employed as a nurse practitioner, your scope of practice will mostly be to diagnose and treat various common illnesses and injuries within your area of specialty. Other roles or functions will include;
As a Physician Assistant, your major role will revolve around diagnosing patients and prescribing medications. Also, you can practice in virtually all medical and surgical specialties, provided you are properly trained and supervised.
Other roles or functions will include;
#2. NP vs PA Recertify Duration
Both professions need an advanced certificate before you can practice. For instance, if a Nurse advance from a bachelor’s to a master’s or doctoral degree and completes an exam, he/she gets a nurse practitioner certification. This certification must be maintained and recertified after some years. The same with a Physician Assistant.
The difference now is in the duration or number of years each last before it can be re certified.
If you are a Nurse practitioner, you will need to recertify every five years, after you must have met the clinical practice and continuing education (CE) requirements. In most states, that’s 1,000 clinical hours and 75 continuing education hours.
On the other hand, as a Physician Assistant, you will need to recertify every 10 years and have 100 continuing medical education credits.
#3. Nurse Practitioner vs Physician Assistant Education Qualifications
The only thing that looks a bit similar in their educational qualification is that both professions will require to pursue continuing education and certification courses as you advance in your careers.
To get the skills needed to become a nurse practitioner, you must acquire the following:
- You must have a nursing-related bachelor’s degree, typically a Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN), but related degrees are sometimes acceptable
- Must have gotten a state RN licensure by taking an exam, such as the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN)
- Completed one to two years of hands-on nursing experience
- Have a Master of Science in Nursing
- Pass a final certification exam upon completion of a master’s degree
- Complete anywhere from 750 to 2,500 clinical hours, depending on the specialty
To become a physician assistant, you must have the following:
- You must have a bachelor’s degree in a scientific field, such as physiology, chemistry, mathematics or biology
- You must have gained some work experience in the nursing field, but RN licensure is not necessary
- Have to complete up to 2,000 clinical hours
- Complete 10 to 12 eight-week rotations in varied medical fields, such as dermatology, emergency medicine or surgery
- Take and pass the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE)
- Obtain state licensure to practice
#4 NP vs PA- Work Specialty
Although NP nad PA can work in the same environment or setting, their specialties differs. if you are a Nurse practitioner, you will be trained to practice in the following specialty areas:
On the other hand, as a Physician Assistant, you will be trained to practice in the following specialty areas.
#5. Np vs PA– Licensing Requirements
After graduation, NPs must be licensed and certified by state nursing boards before they can practice. Requirements vary from state to state, but there is some consistency from state to state about the NP’s primary duties and degree of provider independence.
After graduation, students are eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam (PANCE), which the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) administers. All states require PA graduates to pass this exam before being licensed to practice.
#5. Nurse Practitioner vs Physician Assistant – Job Outlook
For Nurse Practitioner, the job opportunities are expected to increase at a much higher rate than other occupations for the foreseeable future. However, the percentage change from 2016-2026 is 31%.
On the other hand, the career outlook for Physician Assistant is promising. As one of the fastest-growing occupations of the decade, students can expect to find employment in hospitals, medical offices, and clinics nationwide.
#6. Nurse Practitioner vs Physician Assistant salary
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for nurse practitioners for 2018 was $107,030 with salary ranges from $85,880 to $143,480.
Meanwhile, that of a Physician Assistant was $108,610 per year or $52.22 per hour in 2018. The salary range is $61,230 and $151,850.
#7. Nurse Practitioner vs Physician Assistant Cost
The average cost of acquiring a nurse practitioner degree is about $22,500. For private universities, it will cost from $500 to $1,500 per credit.
Meanwhile, physician assistant program avaerage cost is $71,369 (27 months is the average program length).
Also, the average four-year cost of medical school is $278,866 for private schools and $207,866 for public schools (correct as of 2018).
Which Schools Are The Best Schools for Nursing practitioners?
Here is a list of some of the schools that offer the best Nurse Practitioner programs you can apply for.
What Are The best schools for Physician Assistant?
Below is a list of the best universities that offer Physician Assistant programs. Also, click on each of the schools for information on their PA programs.
Which Career Should I go For?
First, before you make a choice of career between the two, carefully analyze the one that will benefit your professional goals and educational preferences to determine your best career options.
Also, consider some factors like salary, educational ability, allocation, and behavior change for each situation, as well as the services required for PAs and NPs.
Although before you can practice any of the careers you must get a graduate degree. For instance, a Nurse Practitioner pursuing nursing must get RN funding before completing their graduate NP programs.
One thing you must make sure of is that the job you will choice should reflect your goals, interests, and unique skills that you may need.
Between NP and PA Which is Better?
Answer to this question is based on your personal goal and ambition. Generally speaking, these two professions have unique features that distinguish them. These features make them important and most needed in a particular area.
So, a student may decide to go for a nursing practitioner while another may prefer becoming a Physician Assistant depending on their career goals.
The both are good.
FAQs On Np vs PA
A physician Assistant is a highly qualified physician in medicine. A physician Assistant can be self-employed and excluded from physicians or in co-operation with physicians, according to local or local lawmaking PAs.
Nurse Practitioner is a licensed clinician or Advanced practice registered nurse whose responsibilities revolve around providing primary, acute, chronic, and specialty care to patients of all ages, depending on their field of practice.
You can specialize in the following areas;
The roles or functions Nurse Practitioners include;
Ordering, performing and interpreting diagnostic tests
Diagnosing and treating acute and chronic conditions
Prescribing medications and other treatments
Counseling patients regarding various health needs
Educating patients about preventing disease and adopting healthier lifestyles
The roles or functions of Physician Assistants include;
Administering treatment like setting broken bones and immunizing patients.
Educating and counseling patients and their families—for example, answering questions about how to care for a child with asthma.
You will also be responsible for checking a patient’s progress.
Then, Conducting or participating in outreach programs, talking to groups about managing diseases, and promoting wellness.
Also, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, such as x rays or blood tests.
You can specialize in the following areas;
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