A Neutral Perspective: Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant Role

A Neutral Perspective: Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant Role

Often, the duties, responsibilities, and scope of practice between a Nurse Practitioner and a Physician Assistant are misunderstood. Both roles are different from the other but equally important and needed on health care teams as they provide patient care.

To become a Nurse Practitioner, students would want to have earned either a BSN or MSN pre-licensure degree and their RN licensure. These are both prerequisites to be eligible to apply for a MSN or DNP Nurse Practitioner program. This training is usually focused on a particular population and level of care with a holistic approach. Nurse Practitioners become very knowledgeable in specific patient populations, diagnose diseases, prescribe medication, perform and interpret medical tests, and educate patients on care plans for healthy living. Nurse Practitioners are also taught to understand social determinants of health and how this impacts a patient’s well-being. Based on your state, nurse practitioners can work independently as providers in rural and urban hospitals, independently owned businesses and with community outreach programs.

On the flip side, to become a Physician Assistant, you would need to earn a Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies, usually finishing three years post-baccalaureate. Many prerequisite courses and health experience are required to apply to these programs. These programs follow a similar medical training model aligned with medical schools. Treatment from a PA’s perspective is generally focused on biological diagnoses and treatment plans. Physician Assistants, in most cases, will work in collaboration of or with physician supervision. Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants are often found working alongside each other in primary and acute care environments. You will find many similarities and differences alike between these roles. One of the main differences, and often the biggest thing to consider when deciding between the two roles, is the philosophical approach to patient care and treatment. Whichever profession you choose, know you will have the opportunity to positively impact a patient’s health care experience.

About the Author: Brandon LeBlanc

Brandon LeBlanc serves as the Assistant Director for (MSN Entry into Nursing) Recruitment at Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. He has a passion for helping student’s bring life-long goals to life. Feel free to contact him with any questions regarding our nursing programs at 410-502-4132 or [email protected].

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