Hi Alex, both nurse practitioners and physician assistants have promising career paths over the next 10 years. What really is going to matter is what you want your focus to be a physician's assistants practice philosophically in a similar manner to medical doctors. Nurse practitioners practice with a different viewpoint where the patient is in charge of their healthcare while a nurse practitioner provides information and helps to guide them to a higher level of health. NPs do order diagnostic testing, prescribe medications and do minor office procedures. In many ways what's the work that you see being done is similar for example if somebody comes in with strep throat and it is seen by a medical doctor, doctor of osteopathy, physician's assistant or nurse practitioner all will treat in approximately the same way. On the other hand if the patient comes in with diabetes due to obesity and high blood pressure from lack of exercise and obesity besides medication nurse practitioners will generally try to do lifestyle changes along with providing needed medications. There are many physicians and physician's assistants that take a similar approach as well. In all states physician's assistants are licensed under a physician's license. If there supervising physician retires or is no longer able to work in the physician's assistant is also no longer able to work until they find a replacement supervising physician. Nurse practitioners have their own licenses which are not generally dependent on another health professional. There are some exceptions to this rule in the United States but most commonly NPs are licensed on their own recognizance. An oversimplification that may help you decide which path to take is that medicine focuses on diseases that occur in people and the curing of those diseases. Nursing focuses on people who sometimes have illness and in helping individuals to move to the highest level of health that they can obtain. So it depends on where your interest lies. Whether you are a physician, physician's assistant or nurse practitioner there is a lot of overlap in what we do. Your best bet might be to follow around a PA and follow around hey nurse practitioner and see what their days are like. PAs are also more frequently involved in doing procedure such as first assistant in orthopedic surgery and doing other interventions. In the US the majority of nurse practitioners focus on primary care. Hope this is helpful to you. Best of luck. Bob
Oh, PA, definitely PA.
PAs are trained in the physician model with classes in medical diagnostics, and exposure to as many different fields as possible. For example, my clinical rotations were 8 weeks of history and physical taking, emergency medicine, surgical medicine (in the OR), family practice, obstetrics and gynecology, psychology, primary care, pediatrics, internal medicine and an elective of our choosing.
When we graduated from the program we were capable of being hired in any one of those areas. Better yet, if we didn't like the specialty after a while, we can choose a different one. No extra training.
We work in partnership with the physician and in most settings, we are doing exactly what the physician does, with the bonus of having someone to contact if we have questions. We don't have to pay for our own malpractice insurance. Lots of perks.
NPs have to have a four year program nursing degree before entering NP school. Since I'm not a NP, I only know what other NPs have told me. They go through the program more along the nursing pathway and choose the area they want to enter, then follow along solely in that course. Recently, I've seen some NPs in the OR and ER, but they have to be taught the skills once they get there because they aren't taught suturing, etc.
Generally though, NPs are probably better treated than PAs in the work force. When I started, most doctors didn't know exactly what a PA was capable of and didn't want to share their patients with them. We are allowed to write prescriptions, but unlike the NP who has that capability with their license, PAs are delegated that from their supervising physician.
Anyway, I am probably biased in my opinion, but, I feel the ability to choose what specialty you want to work in and the be able to enter an entirely new specialty, without going back to school is what drew me to the profession. When I would start feeling like I was doing the "same old thing" day after day, I was able to switch to a brand new experience .
Hope that helps.
As previously stated, it depends on how you want to practice, and how autonomy you want to have. The ability to practice independently is becoming more common across the country for nurse practitioners. It will not likely ever be the case for physican assistants. They will always require physician supervision.