Compare Nurse Practitioner vs Physician Assistant on career and salary potentials, as to check which is the best career option. Learn schooling requirements, education programs, job opportunities, salary prospects and differences in these healthcare/medical career specialties.

Over the last two decades, like Medical Biller, there are many other new medical and healthcare professions and career opportunities have emerged on US Healthcare panorama. Two such healthcare professions are that of a physician assistant and nurse practitioner. While Nurse Practitioner vs Physician Assistant, both of these professions are somewhat similar. Many people find it difficult to differentiate between the two specialties.

However, despite of subtle differences between Nurse Practitioner vs. Physician Assistant, these are actually quite different from each other. That's why before choosing Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant career track, a clear understanding about each career is need.

Nurse Practitioner (NA) vs Physician Assistant (PA)

Nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) are healthcare workers who typically work under the supervision of licensed physicians. However, different specialties are available within these professions, and the roles of NPs and PAs are governed by varying state laws. Read on to discover the distinctions between NPs and PAs.

Nurse Practitioner vs Physician Assistant, Which is the Best Career?

Both Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician Assistants (PAs) complete many years of postsecondary schooling, often resulting in a master's degree. However, these professionals serve different roles within their places of work, which might include hospitals, doctors' offices or other healthcare facilities. Let's scrutinize the differences between Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant:

Nurse Practitioner (NA)

Nurse Practitioner (NP) is also known as Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN). From the name itself, nurse practitioner, it can be guessed that people go to Nursing School to be a nurse practitioner.

Nurse practitioner provides health care that is patient-centered. Nurse practitioner also provides health education to family or people to prevent diseases. Nurse Practitioner is allowed to work alone without physicians and also open his/her own practice as a result of doctor shortage in 1960s.

Nurse Practitioner Specialties

There are many Nurse Practitioner Specialties. The most prominent nursing specializations are:

Midwife Nurse Practitioner is a nurse practitioner who specializes in midwifery. Nurse midwife may provide health care for women (since puberty until menopause), pregnant women, and newborn babies. Nurse midwife is qualified to assist normal, healthy pregnant women in birthing with no complication or, at least, no high risks. For pregnant women with complications or complex diseases or medical histories, nurse midwife might collaborate with physician and/or obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) to provide health care to the women. Nurse midwife can practice in hospitals, clinics, birthing centers, or assisting birthing at home.

Anesthetist Nurse Practitioner, now popularly known as Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), is a nurse practitioner who specializes in administrating anesthesia for surgery and other procedure.

Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner or mental health nursing, now known as Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP), is a nurse practitioner who specializes in providing health care to patients of all ages with mental illness or mental disturbances, such as depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia, psychosis, etc. Nurse practitioners in psychiatric or mental health nursing can provide psychological therapies, administer psychiatric medication, build therapeutic relationship, handle difficult behaviors, etc.

These are not the only nurse practitioner specializations. There are many other specializations of nurse practitioner such as Adult Nurse Practitioner (ANP), Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (PNP), Gerontological Nurse Practitioner (GNP), Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP), Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (ACNP) etc.

Nurse Practitioner Education Programs

To be a nurse practitioner or advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), a person has to have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) first, and then get a license as Registered Nurse (RN), and have some work experience as Registered Nurse.

Further, the person can attend nurse practitioner program at graduate or doctorate school to be a nurse practitioner. There will be accreditation, certification and re-certification of every 5 years, to be a nurse practitioner or advanced practice registered nurse (APRN).

Nurse Practitioner Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean nurse practitioner salary is $95,070. However, some nurse practitioners earn as little as $55,000 per year, while other who are willing to work long hours can make around $200,000 annually.

Physician Assistant (PA)

Physician Assistant (PA) job was first created based on the fast trained medical doctors in World War II. Physician assistant job also exists in countries other than United States, but with different names such as Assistant Doctors in China, Assistant Medical Officers in Malaysia, Clinical Assistant in South Africa and Physician Associate in UK.

Guessing from the name, Physician Assistant, it can be assumed that Physician Assistant job is to assist a physician. Therefore, unlike nurse practitioner, physician assistant cannot work alone. Physician assistant always works with a physician or in a team of physicians.

Physician assistant provides health care that is disease-centered. Physician assistant assists physician in examining and treating patients and also in surgery as first or second assistant. Physician assistant may get access to the Patient Medical Records, perform health management, examination, evaluation, and treatments. Physician assistant may also make a diagnosis, refer patients to specialists, prescribe medicines and interpret laboratory health tests.

Physician Assistant Specialties

Physician Assistant is usually generalist, but can also be specialized such as in surgery, cardiology, orthopedics, emergency medicine, etc. Physician assistant usually works in hospitals, clinics, and other health facilities.

Physician Assistant Education Programs

To become Physician Assistant a degree in health science such as Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHS), Bachelor of Science Physician Assistant (BScPA), Bachelor of Clinical Health Servies (BCHS) or other health science degrees is required. Physician Assistant Degree Program also allow for higher education in master or doctorate program.

In addition, some period of experience in health care service such as as a Nurse, Paramedic, EMT is also required to join the Physician Assistant Programs. Then, to get the license of physician assistant, the student will go through clinical training that is similar to physician clinical training but in shorter period. Usually, physician assistant has to attend continuing medical education (CME) for every two years and be tested for every six years to renew Physician Assistant Certification.

Physician Assistant Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average Physician Assistant salary is $94,350. A Physician Assistants pay in United States is from $62,030 to $130,020 per year.

Nurse Practitioner (NA) vs Physician Assistant (PA)

The most visible difference between the Nurse Practitioner (NA) vs Physician Assistant (PA) is the type of education required. While the physician assistants qualify through a more general medical examination and are not required to complete a residency, the nurse practitioner qualifies through an exam more specific to population of focus, such as pediatrics or geriatrics. Usually, NPs and PAs are both able to diagnose and treat illness in addition to prescribe medication; however, nurse practitioners may have to apply on the state level for certain additional responsibilities, such as prescribing medication.

Nurse Practitioner vs Physician Assistant, Which is the Best Career?
Physician Assistants are licensed by the Board of Medicine either directly or under a sub board of the BOM. Nurse Practitioner are licensed by the board of nursing. Depending on the state they may also have to register with the board of medicine for practice agreements.

Nurse Practitioner holds independent licenses to practice advanced practice nursing. The scope of practice is determined by their training, certification and state BON. Physician Assistant have dependent licenses to practice medicine. The dependent part refers to the scope of practice. In most states the PA may not practice in areas that their supervising physician is not capable of practicing in.

Both careers give plenty of opportunities to serve humanity and earn a financial satisfied life too. Both have their own benefits and difficulties. If you like to give more care to the patients, nurse practitioner might be the best choice of a career for you. On the other hand, if you like to be more involved in health service or surgery but do not like the big responsibility of a doctor / physician, physician assistant will be the great choice of a career for you.

We conclude our Nurse Practitioner vs. Physician Assistant career comparison on a note that it is hard to decide whether Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant, is the best career. It all depends on each ones personal interests and preferences.

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