Should I go Physician's Assistant or Nurse Practitioner in KY?

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    Hi! I'm graduating high school this fall, and my dream is to become one of these. I would love to work in primary care/vs hospital. I want to work in a pediatric doctor's office(9-5) I am trying to decide which would be the better route here in Louisville/Elizabethtown, KY. Do we have more of the other, or what's the deal? Which one has more openings NP or PA? Thank you so much!
  2. 10 Comments so far...

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    I'm also debating whether to be a nurse practitioner or PA, except I'm in Texas. So any information would be helpful!
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    University of Kentucky posts jobs for advanced care practitioners that can be either an NP or PA. I am going the NP route because it allows me to work as I go to school and step up gradually. The PA route requires more intense pre-requisites like chemistry. It might help to look at some PA and NP program requirements and curriculums to get an idea of what the programs are like and what the admission requirements are.
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    I think the only PA program in the state is at UK, and like mentioned earlier it requires much more intense pre-requisites. My primary care is done by a PA, and she went to UK and she's great. There are more NP programs in the state as far as I know.

    I would recommend doing a shadowing of both positions if you can. Get some insight into what they do every day and ask them how they came to their decisions. Really try to pick their brain for the time that you have them. I have a friend that wanted to be a PA, did a shadow and absolutely hated it, so she ended up as an English major and teaches high school English. A lot of times what you expect and what is reality are different, so make sure that you do some hands on work while you're getting your bachelor's and that should help you. Also, since I think both of those are master's programs you will have more time to figure it out as well.

    Good luck!
    Brannray likes this.
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    I BELIEVE that NPs have more autonomy than PAs. A PA typically works under a Physician's license and it is up to the physician what he or she feels comfortable allowing the PA to do. For example if the physician is only comfortable allowing the PA to do bandages then that is all that PA is going to do. The physician limits the scope of practice for the PA.
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    As amandakash mentioned... shadow them if you can. There is nothing compare to actually seeing them then just hearing other's opinion.

    However, since you asked, I will advise that you choose NP. I wanted to become a PA myself during undergrad. Yet, working as a medical assistant and talking to different medical professional and actually see what their roles are, I became a nurse.

    A Physician's Assistant will be.... forever working with or mostly under a doctor. As a Nurse Practitioner, you can practice in a clinic, hospital, be an educator, manager, director, politics... The sky is the limit.

    Since I am an OR nurse, one of the advantage of being a PA over a NP will be that a PA can assist MD during their surgery where a NP (usually) does not. However, if a NP obtains RNFA role, then NPs can assist MDs in the operating room as well. However, this NP/RNFA is not utilize much as I found.

    Hope this helps.
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    Quote from Scrubmouse RN
    I BELIEVE that NPs have more autonomy than PAs. A PA typically works under a Physician's license and it is up to the physician what he or she feels comfortable allowing the PA to do. For example if the physician is only comfortable allowing the PA to do bandages then that is all that PA is going to do. The physician limits the scope of practice for the PA.
    Autonomy is similar for both in the most common setting- hospital based or physician/group owned practice. The percentages that go into independently owned practice are similar between NP and PA. Laws are different for each, but there are avenues for ownership depending on the state you are in. Collaboration vs. supervision/sponsorship...tom-ay-to/to-mah-to, again, depending on where you are.

    The comment about bandages is pretty funny but sadly I don;t think you meant it as a joke. Physicians and hospitals employ PAs to practice medicine and be productive. Just like.....NPs.

    Don't believe the hype; the scope for each is terribly similar.
    RHC81 likes this.
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    Quote from msn2010
    As amandakash mentioned... shadow them if you can. There is nothing compare to actually seeing them then just hearing other's opinion.

    However, since you asked, I will advise that you choose NP. I wanted to become a PA myself during undergrad. Yet, working as a medical assistant and talking to different medical professional and actually see what their roles are, I became a nurse.

    A Physician's Assistant will be.... forever working with or mostly under a doctor. As a Nurse Practitioner, you can practice in a clinic, hospital, be an educator, manager, director, politics... The sky is the limit.

    Since I am an OR nurse, one of the advantage of being a PA over a NP will be that a PA can assist MD during their surgery where a NP (usually) does not. However, if a NP obtains RNFA role, then NPs can assist MDs in the operating room as well. However, this NP/RNFA is not utilize much as I found.

    Hope this helps.
    So I'll start off being a jerk and tell you it's Physician Assistant, no 's. But I guess if I called an NP a nurse I could get a similar reaction.

    Second, PAs work in professional association with docs. I know several hundred PAs personally and outside the OR there's not much assisting, not any more than a hospital/group based NP does in taking care of their pts.

    I know the dogma, I've read it here 1000 times before. The NPs that come over to the PA forum like to stick in occasionally as well. They like to insist that the legal supervisory relationship PAs have is some sort of looking over the shoulder, hand holding guidance. NPs that work with PAs probably know better....just as I do for the NPs I work with.

    There's no need for NPs to try and diminish PA autonomy. We all need to be honest about our respective roles. For the time being, neither is going anywhere.

    And on this:

    "As a Nurse Practitioner, you can practice in a clinic, hospital, be an educator, manager, director, politics... "

    PAs can and DO serve in ALL these roles as well. Where do you get your information? Again, let's learn more about each other and speak knowledgeably about the other before trying to pull for rank.
    RHC81 likes this.
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    In Kentucky, PAs and NPs are different in two ways:

    1. Education: PAs are a masters degree program (only one in the state is UK) and usually have a bachelors in either biology or chemistry (not necessarily required to be one of these, but the prereqs fall into these programs, so they just seem to fit). NPs are a masters degree program with more options for education in Kentucky, and have a bachelor of nursing. In my opinion, getting your bachelor of nursing and working would probably be best, then when you decide which one you want, you could either take the remaining prereqs for PA or go into NP.

    2. Scope of practice: PAs work under a physician (either MD or DO), but not necessarily in an office, a lot of ERs in my area (eastern Kentucky)are using PAs lately; NPs work in either a physician's office, ER, clinic, private office, etc. PAs can prescribe anything that a physician can prescribe in Kentucky, however, NPs can only prescribe limited amounts of narcotics (although since you want peds, that wouldn't be a big deal).

    Good luck either way that you decide to go!
    lindarn likes this.
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    I myself am going to go the NP route, because NP's can have basically their own practice, when PA's have to always work under the supervision of a Physician. However, it's all in what you ultimately decide that you want. You don't just have to work in doctor's offices though, PA's can work wherever there's a Physician, ER's as MissJulie mentioned above, are one of the places PA's work here in Eastern Ky as well as many other places in Ky I'm sure. =) Good luck!!


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