Home / Physician Assistant / Nurse Practitioner vs Physician Assistant

Nurse Practitioner vs Physician Assistant

Many students who are interested in the medical field will likely consider being a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant at some point during their studies. However, a surprising amount of medical students still have trouble separating the two very unique career paths. Many people believe that they are one and the same, and that it comes down to which title sounds better. This could not be further from the truth. There are major differences between a nurse practitioner and a physician assistant. It is important to understand these difference before choosing which path to follow.

Nurse Practitioner vs Physician Assistant

Defining A Physician Assistant

First of all, a physician assistant is a health care professional. They have the proper license to administer medical care. However, this care must be supervised by a physician. A physician assistant will work alongside a physician as a team. The focus is typically on pathological and biological medical concerns. A physician assistant will diagnose health problems and offer treatments, whereas a nurse practitioner is more involved with overall wellness promotion and preventative care.


Defining A Nurse Practitioner

Nurse practitioners often have a medical specialty. They cannot administer general medical care, but they can administer medical aid that is related to their specific training. Like a physician assistant, this aid must be supervised by the physician in charge. The focus of a nurse practitioner is usually biopsychosocial, dealing with the development of diseases and promoting preventative care among common patients. Nurse practitioners do not always deal with serious health issues. Instead, they work to educate patients on how to care for themselves before such problems have a chance to arise. You can read more about Nurse Practitioner education programs at http://www.nursingexaminer.com

Educational Differences

As there are major differences between a physician assistant and a nurse practitioner, there are also major difference between medical school and nursing school. To study as a physician assistant, you need experience in health care. Medical school typically requires a bachelor’s degree as well. Physician assistant studies are geared towards advanced science. This type of training has a wide range, since PAs are expected to have a general knowledge of medicine and health care. PAs may also be taught how to perform basic surgical procedures and other forms of treatment.

Nurse practitioners are almost never trained for surgical procedures, since the focus is more on preventative care. Practitioners also do not receive general health care training. Every practitioner must choose a specific medical direction. For instance, nurse practitioners are more likely to be trained as podiatrists, gerontologists or some other type of specialist. Any students with a specific medical interest will likely find more satisfaction in a nurse practitioner’s position.

Nurse Practitioner vs Physician Assistant

When it comes down to it, a physician assistant has a little more freedom to practice. However, this freedom also comes with much more responsibility. Although the supervision of a physician is requires for a PA to practice health care, this supervision does not have to be on site. This means that a PA can technically practice as a health care professional with a physician’s license.

A nurse practitioner usually needs constant on site supervision for any treatment offered. However, license specifications range from state to state. When deciding on a medical path, it is important to consider where you will be practicing. It is also important to decide whether you want to focus on general medicine or a specialty. One title is not necessarily better than the other. It all comes down to what a student wants out of their career.