A nurse practitioner, or NP is a registered nurse who is trained to provide various health care services. A physician assistant or PA is a health care professional who can practice medicine but only under the supervision of a physician.
edit Education and Certification
Nurse Practitioners must first become a registered nurse, after completion of a Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) or a diploma program followed by adequate training. Most states require a Master’s degree or a Doctoral degree followed by certification for NPs before they are allowed to practice. The certification for NP is awarded by the American Nurses Credentialing Center and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.
PA programs also offer a Masters degree in Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS), Health Science (MHS), or Medical Science (MMSc). The requirement for enrolling into this program is a Bachelor’s degree along with MCAT or GRE scores. Although PAs are not required to complete a residency program, this training it available as an option after completion of the program. PAs are, however, required to clear the Physician Assistant National certifying Exam (PANCE) according to the regulations set down by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) before practicing, and have to register every 2 years. In addition, PAs must certify again by completing the Pathway II exam, every 6 years. This requirement may vary in different States.
edit Areas of Training and Specialization
Some of the areas of specialization for Nurse Practitioners are Acute Care NP (ACNP), Emergency NP (ENP), Family NP (FNP), Occupational NP (OHNP), Holistic NP (HNP), Oncology NP (ONP), pediatric NP (PNP) and so on.
PAs are trained in the field of anatomy microbiology, pharmacology, hematology, pathology, clinical medicine as part of the curriculum. Clinical rotations are done in areas of internal and family medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics and gynecology, oncology, emergency medicine, among others.
Some of the post-nominal initials that NPs use are:
- NP-C (certified NP)
- ARNP (advanced registered NP)
- MSN (Master of Science in Nursing)
- MN (Master of Nursing)
The post nominal initials for PAs are:
- PA-C (PA – certified)
- RPA (registered PA)
edit Scope for Practice
As this profession is state regulated, the scope of practice varies in different states. A Nurse Practitioner’s job profile may allow one to work independently or in collaboration with a physician. The duties include but may not be limited to conducting physical examination, obtaining medical histories, physical therapy, performing diagnostic tests, prescribing drugs, providing prenatal care, as well as counseling and educating patients.
The institutions that can employ NPs include community clinics and health centers, nursing homes, private and public schools, hospitals, physicians, and more.
PAs are medical professionals and their scope of practice is according their agreement with the physician. They mainly perform tasks such as collecting medical information from patients, performing examinations and test, diagnosing illnesses, prescribing medications, referring patients to specialists, and assisting in surgery. Although PAs collaborate with a physician, they do not have to always be under direct supervision. PAs have their personal medical license and can practice in urban or rural areas, in satellite clinics, prisons, nursing homes, schools or even in academic administration.