The nursing and healthcare profession is a large field, providing you with plenty of career options be it to start with or expand to. Eventually, you will come across the debate between nurse practitioners (NP) and physicians’ assistants (PA). Both play vital roles in healthcare, but there are fundamental differences here.
NP vs AP Side by Side Comparison
- A PA has to study in a medical school while an NP goes to a nursing school.
- Physicians’ assistants concentrate on a disease center model where the emphasis is on health pathology, biology, treatment, diagnosis, and assessment.
- Nurses focus on a patient center model. The emphasis is on patient treatment, diagnosis, assessment, health education and disease prevention.
- According to the Bureau and Labor Statistics, the mean annual wage of an NP is $104,610 or $50 an hour.
- The mean annual wage of a PA is $102,090 or $49 per hour.
- As of May 2016, there were 155,580 NP’s in the US and 106,200 PAs.
- The BLS estimates job growth for PAs is 37% from 2016 to 2026. For NPs it is 37%, also for the same time period. The number of job positions available for PAs is 39,700 by 2026 and 56,000 for NPs.
What are the Requirements?
Both NPs and PAs are required to complete a masters degree program at minimum.
Back in 2015, the AACN suggested a DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) be the requirement for aspiring NPs. To this day, however, the majority of states still mandate an MSN (Master’s of Science in Nursing) degree. A nursing practitioner, however, can obtain a DNP in a certified nursing school if one wishes to.
An aspiring PA can avail of more than 200 PA programs in the US, all of which have master’s degrees.
NP and PA Program Comparison
Nursing practitioners select an area of specialization. Next, they have to complete approximately 700 clinical hours and 500 didactic hours, though for DNPs it is 1000 hours.
An aspiring PA has to finish 2000+ hours of clinical training and 1000 didactic hours during their generalist training.
Every PA program in the US is certified by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, Inc. For NPs it is either the ACEN (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc.) or the CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education).
An NP needs a DNP, an MSN or an RN license is required for state licensing. If you want to be a PA you can get a license by graduating from an accredited institution and national certification.
So which of the two is better? As the facts and figures above show, both offer opportunities for a fulfilling career, and it really depends on your personal preference. But whichever choose, you have the chance to make a difference and that is what truly matters the most!