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Differences Between NPs and PAs

Which should you become: an NP or a PA? ADVANCE's handy compare-and-contrast report can help you decide.

Differences Between NPs and PAs
Over the last several years, during what has been a rocky and recession-prone economy, the healthcare industry has continued to thrive and add jobs.
If you want a career in healthcare and desire a position that requires complex decision-making, provides ample job opportunities and commands a higher-than-average salary, the nurse practitioner (NP) and physician assistant (PA) professions would more than fit the bill. But which one would suit you better? How are the two professions similar, and how do they differ?

Download our handy compare-and-contrast report to see the differences in education, job descriptions, salary and more.


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I am disappointed at the inaccurate and biased comparison of the two categories of providers. I would suggest that you consider the following factors and rephrase the comparison to make it more factual and remove some of the obvious bias.
The Basics - NP's are MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS who are nurses with advanced education...... PA's receive education and clinical training in PA programs TO BECOME medial professionals (many have no medical training upon entry into PA programs) .

Both NP and PA provide healthcare services that parallel those provided by physicians. NEITHER NP or PA practices surgery and BOTH NP and PA work with surgeons during surgeons.

FOR NP a master's degree is REQUIRED. For PA an master's is available but only a bachelor's is currently required. PA - MOST HAVE A BA/BS and HEALTHCARE EXPERIENCE does not equate with REQUIREMENT for NP practice.

Most master's programs leading to NP designation are at least 2 years (24 months) in length or longer and that is on top of a 4 year degree (required). PA training programs are 26 months and that may be without obtaining a bachelor's degree.

NP and PA are both educated as generalists and there is opportunity for both to specialize. Usually NP specialization is by way of additional didactic and clinical education; PA specialization can be by way of on-the-job training.

Lets correct this comparison and make it more reflective of real life.

Aileen Staller,  DNP, ARNP-CNovember 18, 2016


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