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What is the difference between a doctor, a physicians assistant, and a nurse, from the point of view of day to day responsibilities and from the perspective of required training?


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Dawn’s Answer

1. Physician goes to med school and becomes trained to be a medical doctor
2. A nurse is an person who goes to school and becomes a nurse with an associate, masters or doctorate degree and can become a Nurse Practitioner , Clinical Specialist or Doctor of Nure Practitioner or a Doctorate of Ed.
3. A Physician Assistant is a person in any specialty who goes thru special training to become a medical provider closely working with a physician
4. A Nurse Practitioner and a Physician Assistant have the same roles and pretty much function in the same way, difference is A Nurse Practitioner is a Nurse who practices medicine with specailty training and has a master's or doctorate degree, can work anonymously or independently without direct supervision of a Physician. Most Physician Assistants must have a doctor on staff or in the office when practiticing or close by. Nurse Practitioners do not. We can run, manage and support our own medical offices with a collaborative agreement with a Physician who may or may not have direct patient care at the time the NP is rendering services in the office.

Nurse Practitioner : 4 yrs Nursing, 2 yrs graduate school and some 2 more years doctorate. Masters NP or Doctorate Doctorate of NP.

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Richard’s Answer

Physician: In the US, to apply to medical school, you need a bachelor's degree. Any 4-year university should suffice. You will need to get good grades in college in order to apply for medical school. At the medical school I attended, the average GPA is reported to be 3.85, so even one or two B's can hurt your chances of acceptance.

During college study for and complete the MCAT. Apply to medical schools during your last year of college.

Medical school takes 4 years to complete.

After medical school physicians complete a residency for additional training. These can last 3-6 years and are sometimes followed by an additional year or two of fellowship subspecialty training.


PA: 4 years of college followed by about 2 years of graduate school.

Nurse: associates degree for LVN or 4 year degree to become a registered nurse.

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Rachel’s Answer

To be a colon and rectal surgeon, you must complete 14 years of school/training after high school.

To be a PA, you must complete 6 years of school/training after high school.

To be a registered nurse, you must complete 4 years of school/training after high school.

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Estelle’s Answer

As far as the day to day responsibilities, these jobs depend on location and specialty. Physicians usually have office hours with after-hour call. They supervise the PA's and nurses who carry out their instructions.
Nurses either work for hospitals, in which they usually work 8-12 hour shifts, or in clinics. They work in direct patient care or administration.
PA's usually work directly under a physician performing tasks and exams that they then communicate to the physician to determine a plan of care.

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Rachel’s Answer

To be a colon and rectal surgeon, you must complete 14 years of school/training after high school.

To be a PA, you must complete 6 years of school/training after high school.

To be a registered nurse, you must complete 4 years of school/training after high school.

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