I am a male RN. I have been practicing nursing in Telemetry--Cardiac--for 6 years. I am in my completion of my MSN--Adult-Gerontological NP--studies, which I will complete after two more semesters--August 2013 graduation.
NP VS. PA: NPs are more autonomous than PAs. PAs by definition are assistants. NPs are gaining much more autonomy, very quickly these days.
DNP VS. MSN--in relation to after 2015: The Consensus Model is what guides nursing now. It stipulates a DNP will be the minimum requirement to gain NP licensure, starting implementation by 2013, fully integrated by 2015. NPs currently have certificates, i.e., are certified NPs, with STATE licensure as an RN, and they practice under their RN license. The difference is that, in the very near future, NPs will have a separate license from their RN license, and it will be the same nation-wide. Nursing schools across the country have already started phasing out the MSN. One example is Temple University, which no longer has an MSN--NP program. Schools would not be doing away with money-making MSN--NP programs, if there was not a reason!! So, yes, the DNP is going to be a requirement, and yes there is a specific policy, etc. about such.
Education--other: If one is already an RN with a BSN, it will be easier to get the MSN--NP, but with the DNP requirement, it will still take one an additional 4 years, in some advanced cases only 3 years, to complete the DNP, after the BSN. If one does not have any RN degree or license, it will be a lot easier to gain PA Master degree and go the PA route.
Male: I do believe that our arrogant society still has this belief that nurses are female and physicians are male. And, there is actually good reason. Although medical students, starting after around the 1960s, became about 50% female and 50% male, today 95%+ nursing students are female, and 95%+ NP students are also female. International honor societies for nursing tend to be about 97% female, even if the society members are invited!! This shows that, since membership is by invitation only, these societies are excluding men. In fact, I am sure one could open a legal case against these such nursing societies. However, in practice I believe being a male is much better than being a female, whether floor RN or male NP. Males, in my experience, are treated better, with more respect, and have a different work ethic that is liked. There are exceptions on both sides--female and male--but this is my generalization to answer the question above.