Choosing a career can be a very stressful and daunting path towards discovering what is right for you. Many people find that they do want to be in a medical field, but are not sure which position they want to pursue. We’re here to provide you with the right information so you can decide what’s right for you.
How are nurses and PA’s similar?
They are both professionals who are independently licensed providers. Both also perform duties in a medical context and are currently performing some skills that were previously done exclusively by medical doctors.
The roles of nurses and physician assistants are replacing doctors in some contexts where their services will provide more cost-effective care to greater populations.
How are they fundamentally different?
Fundamentally, Physician Assistants draw from more traditional medical roles similar to the paternalism of Medical Doctors. The traditions that PA’s draw from are different from that of the Nurse Practitioner.
Nurse Practitioners have a more holistic approach in which the focus is on wellness and the entire individual, whereas PA’s have a more traditional approach focusing on the illness and disease itself.
Which one should I choose?
The education for Physician assistants and Nurse Practitioners are often in different departments or entirely different schools. For many people, the choice partly depends on the area they live, as some schools are better in certain areas.
In some states, Nurse Practitioners have a greater degree of autonomy and are able to act independently of the physician making it a more lucrative career choice. While in other states physician assistants may only have to indirectly refer to a physicians’ aid when making patient care decisions.
The choice should lie in how much independence you want in a career, as well as if you’re interested in specializing.
Nurse Practitioners can often times have a broader, more diverse patient population with the opportunity to easily switch specialties. Physician assistants are required to specialize similarly to medical doctors and stay within their realm in order to practice.
What is the difference in scope of practice?
A whopping 25% of Physician Assistants have positions with a surgical component from preoperative to intraoperative to postoperative duties. A select few Physician assistants actually perform surgeries, but are capable of performing everything in-between. If surgery interests you, you may want to choose to become a Physician assistant.
Nurse Practioners have a greater component in nurse midwifing or neonatal experiences. If you are wanting to get into everything maternity and newborn, becoming a nurse practitioner may be right for you.
How much clinical training should I expect?
Physician assistants can expect a very well-rounded experience, with over 2,000 hours of clinical training. This usually takes place in a variety of units and hospitals so that you’re able to try out a vast selection of specialties before choosing which one is right for you.
If you’re on the path to Nurse Practitioner, you can expect around 600 hours of clinical experience with university sponsored training. While you have unique, specialized training you can also expect a diverse experience in a variety of fields.
In general, the Nurse Practitioner has a more diverse background than the physician assistant. Usually when getting hired, a physician will prefer to see that a PA has a strong clinical experience in one specialty rather than a mash-up of experiences. Physician’s like to see that PA’s have proven themselves in a particular area before recruiting them to their practice.
How do I get accepted to a program?
Becoming a Physician Assistant and a Nurse Practitioner require a heavy course load of prerequisites before being accepted into a program. Often times your school adviser can differentiate between the prerequisites that you need to become a Physician Assistant or a Nurse Practitioner. However, you should know that to get into either profession requires a heavily science-based background.
PA schools will require a lot of chemistry and math courses to be completed. While on the other hand, Nurse Practitioner schools will require a heavy load of a diverse subject matter. These can be anything from nutrition courses, chemistry and a many social science courses.
Whatever route you choose, trust in the fact that you know yourself better than anyone else. Whether you choose to become specialized as a Physician Assistant or more generalized as a Nurse Practitioner you can take comfort in the fact that you will help so many people along the way.