You've been asked this before but.......

  1. I originally started out in college as a nursing major. My parents convinced me to switch so I did. Now I am going to be applying to a couple entry level Nurse Practioner programs in my area.
    Everytime I tell people I am going back to school they ask me why I am not going to PA school instead. Now I have heard that PAs make more money than NPs but that NPs have more autonomy. Can anyone tell me the real differences between their roles, education, and paycheck. I have checked out the entrance requirements for these programs and it appears that people entering PA programs need between 2000-3000 hours of direct patient care. However entry level NP/Clinical Case Manager programs only require a Anatomy, Physiology, Stats, Microbiology, and Nutrition (some schools require a couple more, others a couple less).
    Could someone please shed some light on this issue for me???
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  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   LLDPaRN
    Beth
    I am currently enrolled in an acute care nurse practitioner program. At my school, students in all programs are required to take pharmacology, research, an assessment course and a biochem/physiology course. Several years ago, when I was trying to decide between NP and PA, I ultimately chose to go for my NP. Why? Well, you have to realize that regardless of what NP program you enroll in, the NP title is a certification. In addition to getting your NP certification, you will be getting an MSN (or MS, depending on the school). This opens many more doors to you should you choose to not practice as a nurse practitioner. Having your MS/MSN would allow you to go into teaching, administration--the opportunities are endless! If you go through a PA program, you'll be able to work in that capacity but future advancement could be limited. Another factor to consider (which played a major role in my decision) is that many PA programs require a full time commitment, whereas many master's programs can be completed on a part-time basis.

    These are just some things to consider--you ultimately have to decide what is right for you. I hope this information was helpful and I wish you the best of luck!

    Laurie
  4. by   Beth1977
    How is the role of the job of the NP and PA different?
  5. by   Charles S. Smith, RN, MS
    Originally posted by Beth1977:
    How is the role of the job of the NP and PA different?
    Beth..since you are in Richmond, I strongly urge you to go to MCV and UVA to meet with admissions counselors on both campuses. In a nutshell, the difference is: PAs are MD extenders, NPs are advanced practice RNs who have some privileges previously only given to MDs. The NP role is absolutely unique,built firmly upon the nursing process model in conjunction with the medical model, not constricting and with a wealth of possibilities. Talk to the counselors...you will get your answers.

    best regards
    chas
  6. by   Beth1977
    Thanks but I am in Richmond, CA near SF not Richmond, VA
  7. by   mustangsheba
    Beth: As Charles points out, NP's are NURSES. How do you think and function? I have to point out to people every day that nurses are not wannabe doctors. We provide a different kind of care. Our philosophy and practice complements but is not the same as the doctors'.
  8. by   TracyRN
    Beth, if you don't know the difference between PA and NP, have you considered working for awhile and figuring it out with experience? I'm heading back to school (as soon as my husband is done with is MA so we didn't kill each other for access to the computer:-) ) and know exactly where I'm going, how long it'll take me to get there and what I'll be doing with the degree I've earned when its all over and done with. I also have a facility to pay my tuition (which is important to me, maybe not to you).

    Your story kind of reminds me of one of my classmates thru nursing school. Her parents convinced her she wanted to be a nurse, paid her way thru, including nice car and housing, and the last I heard from her she was a bartender in Texas and happy as a clam. My point? Why waste time and money on something you're not sure of?
  9. by   Tim-GNP
    The role of the NP is different from the PA in that a PA must always practice under the SUPERVISION of a physician. An NP-depending upon state of licensure works independent, in collaboration or under the supervision of a physician. PA's are more acceptable to physicians because the term 'assistant' is used. Some states are strange about PA regulations, also. Here in Pennsylvania, PA's have to wear a badge identifying themselves as a PA in 16 font type!!! [I don't know if they all do or not, but it's in their regulations].

    I work in collaboration with a wonderful group of MD's. They are very supportive and respect my role--as I do theirs. Many MSN/NP programs, including the one I graduated from 'brainwash' NP's into thinking that they are physicians--and this is where NP's run into trouble, and meet violent opposition from physician groups. We bring a Nursing background and a sense of holisism to the care we provide, we manage routine medical conditions; as defined by our educational focus and scope of practice[in my specialty- Gerontology].

    NP is a wonderful tangent of nursing. Consider it carefully and good luck with whatever you decide to do.




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    Tis with our judgements as our watches, none go just alike, yet, each believes his own.
    -Alexander Pope
  10. by   Beth1977
    Originally posted by TracyRN:
    Beth, if you don't know the difference between PA and NP, have you considered working for awhile and figuring it out with experience? I'm heading back to school (as soon as my husband is done with is MA so we didn't kill each other for access to the computer:-) ) and know exactly where I'm going, how long it'll take me to get there and what I'll be doing with the degree I've earned when its all over and done with. I also have a facility to pay my tuition (which is important to me, maybe not to you).

    Your story kind of reminds me of one of my classmates thru nursing school. Her parents convinced her she wanted to be a nurse, paid her way thru, including nice car and housing, and the last I heard from her she was a bartender in Texas and happy as a clam. My point? Why waste time and money on something you're not sure of?
    My parents convinced me not to be a nurse!!!!! I started out as a nursing major after I had worked as nurse's aide for a year. My parents would not pay for me to be a nurse and I was 18 and din't know crap about paying for school. Now I am the one in charge and will be the one financing my masters degree. Please try to get your facts straight before jumping down my throat.

  11. by   Nittlebug
    Beth- I really don't know what to say to you. We nurses are generally underpaid and work long hard hours ( holidays and nightshifts ). Yes we get crabby. Yes we get burned out sometimes. Sorry to say I think most of us get at least a little bit envious of anyone who has enough resources to bypass the trenches and jump into a high paying dayshift job with great benefits and no holidays.

    I believe if you are going to get much respect as a nurse practitioner, you had better do at least a little staff nursing to get some real experience.

    I believe if you are going to get much respect as a PA, well, good luck....

    By the way... tell your manipulative parents to get a life.
  12. by   lalaxton
    Beth,

    In answer to your question about the difference in NP and PA pay I think most people feel that PA's make more money because many of them are in specialty practices and they in general make more. NP's in similar jobs make comparable pay. Many more NP's work in Primary Care settings than PA's and in general family practice pays less. Of course you have to also take in regional differences. I know I make more in Louisiana as an NP than I did in South Carolina but there are less NP's here than there. I also know of a NP here that makes more than most PA's I know but she works long hours with a group of CV surgeons.

    I also think that an NP has more flexibility and options than PA's do and that convinced me to go the NP route instead of PA.

    Good luck in your search!

  13. by   Beth1977
    Originally posted by Nittlebug:
    Beth- I really don't know what to say to you. We nurses are generally underpaid and work long hard hours ( holidays and nightshifts ). Yes we get crabby. Yes we get burned out sometimes. Sorry to say I think most of us get at least a little bit envious of anyone who has enough resources to bypass the trenches and jump into a high paying dayshift job with great benefits and no holidays.

    I believe if you are going to get much respect as a nurse practitioner, you had better do at least a little staff nursing to get some real experience.

    I believe if you are going to get much respect as a PA, well, good luck....

    By the way... tell your manipulative parents to get a life.

    Thanks. Oh believe me I have told my parents where to go and they are furious with my decision to go back to school but oh well- it's not theit problem.
    It amazes me how so many people who use this forum lash out at others. It especially amazes me how these people went into a field of study that is about helping others and being compassionate and yet can't control the anger and rage they have built inside of themselves. It is no wonder that the younger generation does not want to go into nursing-they are scared of being tortured and eaten by their bitter superiors.
    I merely wanted to know what you guys thought the differences between NPs and PAs are. It's not that I don't know a couple differences I just wanted others opinions on the matter. There are many people in my current classes that are applying to both entry level NP programs and PA programs. These people think the job is exactly the same and don't really know otherwise. I want to make the right choice for myself so I think going the NP route is better for me b/c it is so versatile in its roles. I also have a degree in education and like the role of NPs role in community awareness.
    This site seems like it can be a good resource if people would just put their anger and animosity aside.
  14. by   wsiab
    Looking at your original post, it appears to me that one of the programs you may be considering would be Samuel Merritt's ELMS program. I recently graduated from their BSN program. One thing to be aware of is that an entry level masters degree in nursing is not an advanced practice degree. Yes you come out of the program with a masters in nursing/ case management, however, this does not qualify you for to be a NP. Half way through the program you are able to sit for NCLEX RN. The program is designed for students that want to become RNs and already have Bachelor's degrees in other areas. If you want to become a NP and start with an entry level masters program, you will still have to go into an advanced practice NP or PA program afterwards. I think this also may be the difference between prerequisites that you may be encountering, entry level programs require only the same prerequisites as your basic RN program. NP/PA programs are advanced practice programs.

    I do know that Samuel Merritt does have an NP program that does not have a lot of practice requirements, because some of my classmates are going directly into it next fall, youm ay be able to do the ELMs program and go directly into an NP program....It might be a good idea to schedule an appointment with Anne Seed, she is very friendly, she can go over the programs with you and help you figure out what classes you may need to take before entering the program (it's what she does).

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