Quote from kgard7777
I am trying to weigh my options if I should become a Nurse or a PA? I am currently in the medical field but not with patient care and I make a pretty good living doing it. However, I would like to do patient care but more on the diagnosis and treatment level. Nevertheless,there is still a small part of me that would rather become a nurse due to the job opportunities and flexibility plus it won't take as long to do the program.
So ladies please help me
There are a number of areas that you have to consider.
As a PA you have your own license but work under the supervision of a physician. This term is frequently misunderstood. What it comes down to is that your scope of practice is defined by that of the physician and that both you (through your license) and the physician (through the supervisory act) are responsible for your actions.
PAs are trained in the medical model with a standardized academic model and required didactic training. The average PA program is 26-27 months in length and will expose you to more than 1500 hours of didactic education and 2100 hours of clinical education. This is necessarily heavy in pathophysiology and pharmacology and well as medical diagnosis.
One of the advantages of the PA profession is that movement among the medical or surgical specialties is quite easy and frequent. While there is a greater prevalence in certain specialties for ANPs there are PA working in pretty much every medical specialty. The complexity of medicine is also quite broad. There are PAs working in primary care and minute clinics. There are also PAs working in critical care, cardiovascular surgery and bone marrow transplant. There are ample opportunities to either carve out your own niche or move around if you get bored. The PA receives a generalist medical training then gets additional education from the physician in the specialty area. Currently the division is between primary care, specialty medicine and surgery is roughly 1/3 for each.
As the other posters pointed out the more usual comparison is between NP and PA. There is a thread here that discusses this:
its a pretty long thread but if you start on about page 20 you will get the gist.
Another option is a direct entry NP program. This again is somewhat controversial and there is a long thread about that here:
You can find more information on the PA profession here:
The PA forum is here:
Final thoughts on the RN vs. PA. I had similar questions (although the RN was clearly a stepping stone to NP) many years ago. I was unable to stomach more than the one nursing theory class that I took. Another issue is pay. As another poster pointed out most PA (and NP) positions are salaried. This limits your opportunity for overtime. If you are looking solely at money RNs in northern California are making more than most PAs and NP (at least in private practice). Especially with a little over time.
Finally you have to take a realistic look at the schooling situation. Most nursing programs here have more than a three year waiting list. While its different in other parts of the country, from what I have heard long wait lists are pretty frequent.
On the other hand getting into PA school is no cake walk. In addition to having the necessary coursework (a big subset of Premed) you have to be able to get into a program. Nationally last year around half of all applicants got into any PA program.
Probably the best way to decide is to shadow both a nurse and a PA. See which seems the best fit.
David Carpenter, PA-C