NP vs PA vs CNS

  1. 3
    I am considering going for further education. I am an RN w/ a bachelor's degree (non-nursing) and a AA in nursing. I have 6 years experience, 3 years in cardiac acute care (stepdown). I would like information on differences between these degrees and which might be a better fit. I'm married and have a 3 year old daughter. I can't really afford to work only part-time. I have interest in the CNS degree, but was wondering what the job prospects are. I am also wondering what being a PA would be like (I know this is the NP forum). I'm not sure I can handle 4 years of NP school (financially more than anything)

    Any advice would be appreciated.
  2. Get our hottest nursing topics delivered to your inbox.

  3. 29,373 Visits
    Find Similar Topics
  4. 71 Comments so far...

  5. 5
    Hi,

    I hope I can help, but please remember this is only one person's opinion and I certainly don't know it all! All of the degrees you're considering may take about the same amount of time. I have heard (and seen in my part of the country), that CNS programs and positions are being phased out. I know that the position of CNS was entirely eliminated at the mid sized community hospital I previously worked at, unfortunately. I don't know if that's true nationwide. PA vs. NP-different educational model, but there's often a lot of overlap in the actual jobs both professions do. I'd ask myself some questions first. What do you see yourself doing? Inpatient vs. outpatient, surgical vs. medical, primary care vs. specialty, adults vs. peds vs. family?? Will your current employer help pay for school if you continue to work while you're in school? The answers to these questions might help you determine which route and school is right for you.

    Take a look at the AANP (www.aanp.org) and AAPA (www.aapa.org) websites to get a good overview at both professions (NP and PA). Best of luck to you, whatever you decide.
  6. 0
    I have little input on the CNS portion of your question as I have not worked with any or know any in my area. I will agree with the previous poster in that while the educational models are different, there is overlap between the functions of the NP and PA professions. I have worked with both NP's and PA's in the past and have had a good experience with both professions thus far. In regards to your comment about going to NP school for 4 years, that can vary on the type of program and your course load. There are still many schools offering the MSN option and you do not have to attend school full-time while completing an NP degree. This is a polar opposite to PA schools where PA schools are all full-time with more clinical hours than NP schools offering an MSN. You will be able to work while in NP school versus being a full-time student in PA school. This could help financially as you earn an advanced degree without taking a great deal in loans. Just my two cents.
  7. 2
    CNS is being phased out for the most part, and in many states the term CNS isn't even legally protected.

    As for NP vs PA:

    Everyone (especially here) will tell you to become an NP because of the "autonomy." While this sounds good on paper, it really only comes into play if you open your own office or contract. The overwhelming majority of NPs work in the exact same setting as a PA - that is, in a hospital or under a physician in a private office. In both of these cases, the autonomy aspect doesn't matter, and for the most part the PAs and NPs will both be able to function similarly.
    Education between the two, however, is vastly different. I wanted to be an NP - but I looked into the curriculum. Over half of the classes are fluff and theory. Very little medicine is involved. No gross anatomy, immunology, etc. One pharmacology class, many of which are taught using undergraduate textbooks. PA school on the other hand is practically medical school lite - many of the same classes, all clinically relevant, little to know theory or fluff.

    If you do NP, if you want a solid education, you must go to a reputable school with a strong curriculum, and percentage-wise there aren't that many compared to the fully online, for-profit schools. PA school is much more standardized and you will likely recieve a much better education.
    jaabrn and ruralmed like this.
  8. 0
    I believe the OP meant going to NP school will take 4 years because he has a non-nursing BS. To qualify for NP school he would have to get BSN first.

    One downside to the PA program is every 6 years you will have to take a recertification exam to keep your license.

    Quote from Medic2BSN13
    I have little input on the CNS portion of your question as I have not worked with any or know any in my area. I will agree with the previous poster in that while the educational models are different, there is overlap between the functions of the NP and PA professions. I have worked with both NP's and PA's in the past and have had a good experience with both professions thus far. In regards to your comment about going to NP school for 4 years, that can vary on the type of program and your course load. There are still many schools offering the MSN option and you do not have to attend school full-time while completing an NP degree. This is a polar opposite to PA schools where PA schools are all full-time with more clinical hours than NP schools offering an MSN. You will be able to work while in NP school versus being a full-time student in PA school. This could help financially as you earn an advanced degree without taking a great deal in loans. Just my two cents.
  9. 0
    Quote from HM-8404
    I believe the OP meant going to NP school will take 4 years because he has a non-nursing BS. To qualify for NP school he would have to get BSN first.
    Not necessarily true -- there are NP programs that take nurses without BSNs (there are programs that take RNs without any baccalaureate degree at all). The OP would not have as wide a selection of programs to choose from, but would certainly be able to find a program.
  10. 4
    Quote from HM-8404
    One downside to the PA program is every 6 years you will have to take a recertification exam to keep your license.
    A consider this a plus. Again, it proves more lax standards for NPs vs PAs. I do not consider faster time to completion, less studying, fewer or easier licensing exams, less clinical time, etc to be an asset of the NP education as many others do...in fact, the opposite.
  11. 0
    For some reason my PA friends are having a tough time to get jobs in primary clinics and hospitals, whereas all of my FNP friends have landed in $95000 - $100000+ job offers. Not sure why...
    Last edit by mahaandai on Jul 2, '13 : Reason: zero edit
  12. 7
    Icy Sage Nurse's comment regarding superiority of PA v NP is erroneous. Having to recertify every 6 years doesn't come near to the requirement RNs have, for 30 hours of approved continuing education, every 2 years!

    There is much information about both disciplines that isn't known by those in healthcare professions. To begin, a PA is strictly doctor originated and run. That's why it's regarded as mini-med school. The emphasis is on medical care only, without interfacing with nursing. Graduates function as time savers for physicians.

    Nurse Practitioners need to have performed nursing care, and therefore they are more patient oriented, and know more completely how likely it is that patients will comply with their treatment plan. More time is taken to collect and evaluate patients' past histories, assess their conditions and discuss a plan of care with them that is based on their ability to carry it out.

    Unfortunately employers of both disciplines have little appreciation of the above nuances. PAs, like physicians, have a more "cookie cutter" approach, treating the illness primarily. Nurses are taught more about patients' abilities to cope and cooperate. As one poster indicated, PAs focus on their success monetarily, similar to doctors. The bottom line is "what am I getting, rather than how much am I contributing to patients' wellbeing.
  13. 5
    Quote from lamazeteacher
    Icy Sage Nurse's comment regarding superiority of PA v NP is erroneous. Having to recertify every 6 years doesn't come near to the requirement RNs have, for 30 hours of approved continuing education, every 2 years!

    There is much information about both disciplines that isn't known by those in healthcare professions. To begin, a PA is strictly doctor originated and run. That's why it's regarded as mini-med school. The emphasis is on medical care only, without interfacing with nursing. Graduates function as time savers for physicians.

    Nurse Practitioners need to have performed nursing care, and therefore they are more patient oriented, and know more completely how likely it is that patients will comply with their treatment plan. More time is taken to collect and evaluate patients' past histories, assess their conditions and discuss a plan of care with them that is based on their ability to carry it out.

    Unfortunately employers of both disciplines have little appreciation of the above nuances. PAs, like physicians, have a more "cookie cutter" approach, treating the illness primarily. Nurses are taught more about patients' abilities to cope and cooperate. As one poster indicated, PAs focus on their success monetarily, similar to doctors. The bottom line is "what am I getting, rather than how much am I contributing to patients' wellbeing.
    Do you actually have experience with any of this? The awesome 30 CE requirement, does that apply to every state? You are also assuming that PAs don't have CME requirements (it would be 50 per year for your information). If you are making generalization you should have something to back it up.


Top