The Difference Between a Nurse Practitioner and a Physician Assistant

There are a lot of great roles for healthcare professionals today. Two of the top positions include Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant jobs. But what is the difference between these two career paths? Here is a closer look at NP and PA roles and their similarities and differences.

Nurse Practitioners

A nurse practitioner is a trained professional licensed nurse who can provide medical care in conjunction with a medical doctor. They can manage healthcare conditions with patients, treat injuries and illnesses and provide preventative care.

Physician Assistant

Similarly, a physician assistant can work in any area of medicine, such as family medicine or primary care. They are part of a team with surgeons and other healthcare workers and can examine, diagnose, and treat patients. However, like NPs, they must work with the medical doctors on their team.

Education Requirements

The most significant difference between these two roles is the path it takes to get there. A nurse practitioner must be a registered nurse, complete a graduate program, and pass the National NP certification exam to become a licensed NP. For a Physician Assistant, there is a required graduate program generally made up of RNs, EMTs, or medical assistants. There is also a certification exam to become a PA.

Skills and Qualifications

The skills required for both NP and PA roles are a significant deep dive into medicine. A successful NP or PA has excellent communication skills and can work well with patients and their families. They should also be able to successfully collaborate with the entire medical team to provide the best care.

Work and Responsibilities

Daily duties for either role involve diagnosing and treating patient conditions, prescribing medication or therapies, and handling diagnostic tests, including interpreting results. They also educate patients about their care and preventive measures. There are very few differences between the two positions, except for the pathways it takes to reach them.

Are you searching for your next NP or PA opportunity? NRI Medical Staffing can help, so contact us today.


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