Physician Assistants (PAs) and Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are collectively termed Advanced Practice Providers (APPs). Both have similar scopes of practice and a specific role in the healthcare industry. Physicians rely heavily on the APPs to provide quality care as part of a collaborative health care team. The differences lie in their education and training.  Both PAs and NPs diagnose, and treat illnesses, prescribe medications, and work closely with their attending physician. The APPs scope of practice and prescribing abilities may differ from state to state and must follow the rules and regulations of the state in which they are licensed. Understanding the key differences will better help you determine which medical legal consultant is right for you.

PA (Physician's Assistant)

NP (Nurse Practitoner)

Physician Assistants are medical professional that have had thousands of hours of hands-on medical experience prior to acceptance and completion a Master’s in Physician Assistant Studies. PAs follow a medical school training model with clinical rotations through all core specialties. PAs are required to pass a national board exam through the NCCPA (National Commission for Certifying Physician Assistants), to practice medicine.  PAs are versatile and collaborative. PAs practice in every medical setting and specialty and often will serve as a patient’s principle health care provider. Their scope of practice and supervision is determined by their attending physician or hospital and each state will have its own supervisory requirements.

Nurse practitioners are Registered Nurses who must complete a Master’s or Doctorate degree in addition to advanced clinical training. NPs must pass the (AANP) American Academy of Nurse Practitioner Board certification exam. NPs may choose to practice independently or with a physician in private practice or hospital setting.  NPs are trained to use their clinical expertise to diagnose and treat illness, order and interpret  laboratory work, x-rays and prescribe medication. NP have an added emphasis on health management and disease prevention.  NPs practice in multiple specialities which include primary care, acute care, long term care, pediatrics and psychiatric medicine.

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