Tag Archives: nurse practioner

Today’s Debate: NP vs PA

9 Nov

Bam! Slam! KaBOOM!

The oldest question in the universe? Should I be a physician assistant or a nurse practitioner. As many of you know, this question gets asked all the time from pre grad school students. Which is better? At the risk of being ostracized by my professional organization I am going to go out on a limb here….WE ARE EQUAL!

I work in the ER with very talented PAs and NPs. We own that place! Advanced practice providers are well utilized in my practice setting and we are well supported by our supervising MDs. I never worked with an NP prior to my current position but I heard a lot of rumors before I started.

Here is one falsehood that I frequently heard. NPs aren’t trained in the medical model, therefore they don’t have as solid of a background when compared to a PA. Well, that’s nice. Here’s the truth. NPs have strong programs and though they may have a different emphasis, they are well prepared for the clinician position.

Here’s a question, how many of us PAs feel like we didn’t really start learning until we started working? My “on the job” training was much more valuable than the classroom setting. My degree is awesome, and I am proud of what I accomplished. I also have no illusions that I was a stellar practitioner the day I stepped out of my program. Just like us, NPs have a learning curve when they are out of school as well.

There is some bad air between the NP and PA professions. We undermine each other and it isn’t helping the advanced practice provider (APP). I’ve heard negativity coming from the NP side as well. The truth is, I believe all of the bickering is coming from insecurity. We all had to fight to make our career choices “legitimate” in the eyes of the public. We all had to prove ourselves to the medical world. The truth? There is enough room for us both.

If you are wondering which career path to take, I can’t help you. You have to look at your end goals, your timing, your financial status. The one thing I know is that both careers are changing the healthcare system for the better. If we support each other as equals, we will have a louder voice to direct legislation that affects our reimbursement, scope of practice, and new practice opportunities. So, don’t undermine each other! I know that both types of practitioners will benefit from more cooperation. What has been your experience? Comment below!

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