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15+ Year Member
Jul 10, 2001
Miramar, FL
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At my son's first pediatricians office there were three nurse practicioners. The person wh delivered him was an NP who concentrated on being a mid-wife (Loved her...did not tear not one inch) So my question is what is the difference in duties between PA's and NP's. They can both prescribe as long as they are working under a doctor. They both assist doctors. So what is the difference? Most NP's at least the one's that I have met have a masters. The PA's programs that I have heard of are also at the masters level.

So why do PA and not the NP or vice versa. Is the big difference the approach to medicine? Is it similar to the differences b/w DO's and MD's? The same, with differences in their philosophies. :confused:


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Mar 25, 2001
Brooklyn, NY, USA
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Although there are some blatant similarities between the two professions, they are pretty different in many ways. The most extensive difference is in training/philosophy. A PA is trained in the medical model, very similar to that of a physician. A NP is trained in the nursing model of health care. I was once told that when questioned, where all PA's will state they practice medicine, most NPs will say they practice nursing.
A big difference exists in the amount of classroom and clinical training as well. On average, a PA will have approximately 1000 more clinical training hours before graduation.
A NP is licenced to open up a practice on their own, where a PA requires a SP (supervising physician) - this is a VERY controversial issue from what I have seen, but we will not get into that here.
There are a few other points I have left out, but I think I have touched on the basics. For more info on PAs, visit Hope to help,



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15+ Year Member
Jul 15, 2001
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Being the curious person that I am I would like to touch the controversial issue: Why is that an NP can open up a practice on their own and a PA who has more training cannot? It would be geat if a PA can post what they actually think of this. Let the debate begin!


Excellent question.
An Np can practice autonomously because their training is streamlined! A PA is trained in a variety of fields and then chooses a specialty (or not) later. An NP chooses their field before school (ie. OBGYN/FM), and therefore is focused upon their specialty throughout school and clinicals. This provides the NP with a level of expertise, and somewhat more freedom. The draw back to this (also a plus for the PA) is that a PA can change fields without additional schooling (NP or another residency (MD).

These questions are not at all controvercial. They should be explored in order to expell rumors and falsehoods about both professions.
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