4 answers

Is it better to get my Nurse practitioner or physicians assistant?

Updated Providence, Rhode Island

After I graduate with a nursing degree I want to go on and get either my NP or PA. Not sure which is better to get. #medicine #nurse #healthcare #physician #nurse-practitioner #doctor #hospital-and-health-care

4 answers

Jenny’s Answer


One isn't necessarily better than the other. There are different considerations when choosing.

If you are already a nurse, it is much easier to get your NP than your PA. There are many part time NP programs, so you can work while you go to school. I am going to a program with online classes, and then I will take clinical locally the last year. It is much easier to get into an NP program than a PA program.

The quality of PA programs are much better than NP programs. The prerequisites to get into PA school are more challenging (organic chemistry). Most if not all of PA programs are full time only.

PA schools place students in their clinical rotations. However, NP schools rarely help their students with clinical placement. Preceptorships are hard to find. I know many nurses who had to delay their time in school because of difficulty finding clinical rotations.

If you want to work in critical care or ICU, employers rarely take FNP. They prefer PA or acute care NP. When you go to PA school, you open yourself to all midlevel provider opportunities. When you go the NP route, you have to choose among specialities. You can always start with one specialty and then get a certificate in another specialty while you are working as an NP.

Many states allow NPs to practice independently, but I don't believe that is the case for PAs.

Karyn’s Answer

Updated Valrico, Florida
Hi Sara, the answer depends on where you want to live and what you want to do in terms of a practice. Where you live matters because the scope of position for nurse practitioners and physician assistants is determined at the State level so what you are allowed to do will depend on where you choose to live. I attached the url for the American Academy of Physician Assistants and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. These are the national organizations for each profession. Start here, looking through each to help you decide. I hope this helps, good luck Sara!

Haylei’s Answer

Some people will say go PA because the quality of education is better. I do not think this is true IF you choose a high quality NP program (not a for-profit online program). If you are getting your BSN, NP school will be "the path of least resistance" because it will build upon what you learned in nursing school and you won't have to take extra pre-reqs. In NP school you can choose your specialty vs. having to do rotations in everything in PA school. Also, if you ever want to open your own practice, NPs have independent practice in many states and PAs do not. I thought about going to PA school, but now I am SOOOOO happy that I chose NP school!

Angela’s Answer

Updated Chicago, Illinois
Sara, I think to decide if you want to be an NP or PA is to research both careers and see which one will fit your need and lifestyle. As a NP, you have many opportunities with regards to working anywhere in the US and as a PA, it's very limited. Jobs as PA depends which state you live in. Some states utilize PA's more so than others. You can't go wrong with working as an NP since you can always change your specialty. I am not familiar with PA's or their programs. You may want to ask your nearest local hospital and interview an NP or a PA to know what would be best for you. I hope this helps and wishing you the best.
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