NPs and PAs: Working With You

Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, PA-C


March 12, 2002

In This Article

A Closer Look: Nurse Practitioners

The niche in healthcare filled by NPs is almost exactly the same as that of PAs, and, as noted earlier, PAs and NPs are often under the purview of a single administrative entity in most healthcare organizations.

While this generally holds true, there are some differences. Nurse practitioners are registered nurses (RNs) who have advanced training within a specific area of medicine. Depending on the law in their state, they operate either independently or with a collaborating physician who plays a similar role as the "supervising physician" for PAs.

NP training programs tend to focus specifically on one area of medicine -- accordingly, you will find there to be Family Nurse Practitioners, Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, and the like. This is in contrast to the general nature of PA education. Additionally, NP programs tend to award the master's degree almost universally. Training is also approximately 2 years.

Candidates who become certified by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) Certification Program use the initials NP-C. Those who pass the exam can become recertified every 5 years by exam or by meeting the clinical practice and continuing-education requirements.

You may come across the term "advanced practice nurse." The category encompasses NPs as well as clinical nurse-midwives and is often used interchangeably with "NPs."


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