Nurse Practitioners vs. Physician Assistants

Topic: Nursing
Words: 638 Pages: 2

Modern medicine offers many employment options, especially in the nursing field. One of the important stages was the 1960s, when the demand for primary care was considerably high. During that time, the roles of nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) were created due to the lack of specialists in rural and inner-city places (Kurtzman & Barnow, 2017). Although these roles are quite similar in their level of proficiency, there are some differences in their responsibilities and degree of independence.

These roles were created at almost the same time for quick treatment and care of people without an in-depth diagnosis. To perform the duties of NPs and PAs, it is not necessary to receive advanced education and obtain a doctoral degree. One more similarity is the identical amount of money earned in these professions. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (2021), NPs earn approximately $117,670 per year, while PAs earn slightly less with $115,390 per year. It is also true that in some states, both NPs and PAs cannot perform their duties without the supervision of physicians (Kurtzman & Barnow, 2017).

However, some states allow NPs to work autonomously, while PAs must practice only as members of a team led by a physician. Another difference is the kind of education that these professions need. Kurtzman and Barnow (2017) indicate the difference: “NP curricula emphasizing health promotion, disease prevention, and health education and counseling and PA curricula resembling medical school training” (p. 1). In sum, both professions play a big role for the healthcare community, but some elements of education and different states of autonomy make the difference between them.

Modern medicine created new kinds of nursing specializations that play a great role in modern healthcare. Two of the most growing areas are forensic nursing and disaster nursing. Forensic nurses work with medico-legal cases, mostly with victims of accident, abuse, trauma, and other cases with malicious intent (Özden et al., 2019). It is impossible to imagine the modern world with these professionals because more and more people, especially women, are not silent about harassment and violence directed towards them. I believe that this profession will not lose its relevance in the future and will continue to be important for the local communities. Disaster nursers practice with physical and psychological problems of people who have become victims of environmental disasters. Many academic scholars like Veenema et al.(2017) argue that universities should promote more educational programs aimed at the preparation of more professionals in the sphere of medical help in cases of disasters. Indeed, every new year of the 21 century brings more and more climate problems caused by climate change and global warming. Therefore, disaster nurses will become extremely demanding in the near future.

I believe that the nursing profession will become more and more demanding in the future. Firstly, there are more people on the planet, so the number of nurses needed will grow. Second, the number of nursing specializations is growing over time. In addition to the mentioned forensic nursing and disaster nursing, the field is creating more options for nurses, from infection control nurses to quality control nurses (“The future of nursing,” 2020). Finally, the growing number of men in the profession creates perspectives for the development of nursing worldwide.

The nursing industry is full of different specializations, making it hard to understand the difference between them. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are the two most important specializations in nursing. NPs and PAs have some common responsibilities and approximately the same earnings, while education and autonomy of work are different. In addition to these named professions in medicine, disaster nursing and forensic nurses who deal with quite acute problems of modern society, gain more popularity among students. Lastly, personal opinion was expressed on how nursing is becoming a more demanded and diversified discipline in medicine.


Kurtzman, E. T., & Barnow, B. S. (2017). A comparison of nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and primary care physicians’ patterns of practice and quality of care in health centers. Medical care, 55(6), 615-622.

Özden, D., Özveren, H., & Yılmaz, İ. (2019). The impact of forensic nursing course on students’ knowledge level on forensic evidence. Journal of forensic and legal medicine, 66, 86-90.

The future of nursing. (2020). Global Health Education. Web.

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2021). Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners. Web.

Veenema, T. G., Lavin, R. P., Griffin, A., Gable, A. R., Couig, M. P., & Dobalian, A. (2017). Call to action: The case for advancing disaster nursing education in the United States. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 49(6), 688-696.

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