What are the differences between the following?

  1. I am considering entering the nursing field and I have many questions. I will just ask a few here in hopes of some clarity.

    1) What separates the practice of nursing from the practice of medicince?

    2) What is the differences between a physican's assistant, medical assistant, a nurse practioner and a clinical nurse specialist.

    3) What are the job differences between an LPN vs. a RN
    Thank you in advance.
    Last edit by Salus on Mar 27, '04
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  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   akvarmit
    I can't answer all your questions, but I can give you one saying -

    Doctors take care of bodies affected by disease.........Nurses take care of people affected by disease. They see a test result and order the first line drug........we see a patient who doesn't understand the test and is afraid of this new unknown pill. We answer the ultimate question once the doctor leaves the room, "Um, what did he just say?"
  4. by   sharann
    Since I am a "regular" Rn and not an NP or PA I can just tell you my take on this is that doctors(medicine) treat disease and conditions while nurses treat the entire patient. Doctors cure nurses care for. This is NOT to say doctors do not care ABOUT their patients or that all nurses do, but it is a different type. Mediacal assistants usually work in an doctors office or a clinic under the supervision of a doctor who take ALL responsibility for the MA's actions(legally speaking) since the MA has no licensure and does not take board exams. The RN or LPN has their own licenses and are therfore entirely responsible for their actions or negligence.
    Hope this helps some.
  5. by   RNPATL
    Quote from Salus69
    I am considering entering the nursing field and I have many questions. I will just ask a few here in hopes of some clarity.

    1) What separates the practice of nursing from the practice of medicince?

    2) What is the differences between a physican's assistant, medical assistant, a nurse practioner and a clinical nurse specialist.

    3) What are the job differences between an LPN vs. a RN
    Thank you in advance.
    Physicians are responsible for the identification and treatment of human illness. The chief responsibility of a doctor is to discover and ufold what is wrong with a patient.

    Nurses are responsible to assess and react to a patient's overall response to care. Nurses are also chiefly responsible for the coordination of care that a patient receives.

    A Clinical Nurse Specialist is a Masters level nurse that has a defined responsibility in a specific clinical area and has advanced knowledge in that area. Many Clinical Nurse Specialists are employed as clinical educators or work directly on a unit and assist floor nurses with identifying care needs of the patients. They also serve a vital function in training an educating othr nurses on the floor.

    Advance Practice Nurses (APN) are nurses that either have a Masters in Nursing or a post graduate certification or degree in Advance Practice Nursing. These individuals are still nurses, but they have an advance practice license that allows them to bridge nursing and medicine and diagnose as well as perscribe medications. In many States, an advance practice nurse must have a sponsoring or collabortive relationship with a physician in order to perscribe certain medications. In many States, an advance practice nurse can perscribe certain medications on their own. In addition, Advance Practice Nurses function legally on their own licensure as a Advance Practice Nurse.

    A Physicians Assistant (PA) is an individual that possess (in most States) a Masters degree as a PA. These individuals work directly under the supervision of a physician and carry out many of the duties of a physician. They are NOT independently licensed as PA's, rather they work off the license of their physician. In many states, a PA and APN function quite the same, although an APN is governed by the Board of Nursing and a PA is governed by the Board of Medicine (I think).

    A Medical Assistant is an individual that has gone to school (some for one year, others for 2 years) and function primarily in a physician's office. I do believe that Medical Assitants are licensed, but I am not certain of this.

    A Registered Nurse is the coordinator and manager of care for patients in a number of different clinical environments. Becoming an RN has several different educational tracks (either a 2 year degree or 4 year degree). The scope of practice for an RN is defined by the Board of Nursing. RN's are licensed by their respective States.

    A Licensed Practical Nurse is an individual that goes through a one year intense vocational program (in most States) and works under the direction of the Registered Nurse. The LPN functions in a supportive role and can perform many nursing duties. The LPN is also licensed by their respective States.

    I hope this helps and if I have made any mistakes, I am sure someone will correct me.
    Last edit by RNPATL on Mar 27, '04
  6. by   Salus
    Thank you all for your replies.
  7. by   Salus
    Some things I have found out.

    It seems that the medical assistant does routine clinical and administrative work.

    The NP and the PA are similar the biggest difference seems to be that NP has more autonomy. It seems that this difference has to do with NP come from nursing and PA from other health backgrounds.

    My own thoughts are that these fields developed to free doctors for the more serious things.
    Last edit by Salus on Mar 27, '04
  8. by   Brownms46
    They are NOT independently licensed as PA's, rather they work off the license of their physician. In many states, a PA and APN function quite the same, although an APN is governed by the Board of Nursing and a PA is governed by the Board of Medicine (I think).

    I hope this helps and if I have made any mistakes, I am sure someone will correct me.


    I will only correct the statement about PA's not being independently licensed. PA's are licensed in many states, and there is a push to make licensure of PA standardized, by licensing them in all states.

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