Nurse Practitioner Courses

  1. Hi, I am new to allnurses, but I have a few questions regarding nurse practitioner school.

    When I compared PA and NP curriculum I noticed that many NP schools do not teach gross anatomy, graduate level physiology (they just have pathophysiology), microbiology, or have a course dedicated to EKGs. How is gross anatomy, graduate microbiology and physiology, and in depth EKG training introduced into NP training? Or do they not go over these and just focus on pathophysiology, pharmacology, and health assessment?

    Another question, how in depth do NP programs go into? Do they cover biochemical pathways and molecular mechanisms in relation to pathology and normal physiology? Histology? Cell biology?

    And the last, how do NP specifically approach patients differently than the medical model? For example, if you have a patient with heart disease how would you go about treating them?

    Thank you!
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  2. 16 Comments

  3. by   traumaRUs
    Moved to student NP forum
  4. by   lwsoccjs
    Interesting question from a person as their first post. I have my popcorn ready.
  5. by   AnnieNP
    Are you in a PA program somewhere?
  6. by   meanmaryjean
    OP: People in NP school are already nurses. People in PA school are layperson.

    But- I'm also getting my popcorn ready....
  7. by   heinwfjr
    I am not in a PA program. I'm trying to decide which path to take and I'm curious to know the specifics of each of the two programs.I already know the major requirements like NP students are usually nurses (Vanderbilt has a program to go from BA/BS to MSN).
  8. by   msufan3710
    Are you a nurse?
  9. by   TruvyNurse
    Oh Lord get ready for the heat there, OP. I put M&Ms in my popcorn!!
  10. by   zoidberg
    I'll bite. RN here. Cannot speak for NP education, but... I have taken cellular bio, microbiology, biochemistry, undergrad A&P (those being part of nursing education), as well as general and organic chem, histology, & endocrine/repro physiology as part of my other undergrad major. I am also taking a full EKG course through my employer in a few weeks, as many RNs do. This considerable amount of experience as well as coursework is why you can't compare NP to PA like apples to apples. If you want more info on the direct entry (vanderbilt) please use the search tool.

    Neither route will give you everything...if you want all the basic science, all the pathways, etc, go to med school. PA follows the medical model but they still have to skim over the basics to concentrate on turning any random person into a provider in 2-3 years.

    To answer your question about "how we(nursing) treats patients"... we follow the same evidence based practice that PA's do when caring for a patient. People have a black and white way of viewing professions before they are actually working in healthcare. Once you start working as a part of a team with RNs PAs NPs MDs DOs etc you will find we all work together using the same clinical recommendations to care for patients.
    Last edit by zoidberg on Dec 13 : Reason: grammar
  11. by   AnnieNP
    I have found if a patient comes to our office with a complaint, the MD and I "may" approach the problem a little differently, but the patient usually leaves with the same answer.
  12. by   Rocknurse
    As a final year NP student, yes we covered microbiology and physiology under the umbrella of our very intense pathophysiology class, as well as the following diagnostic classes where we apply all those concepts to actually diagnosing and treating patients with various pathologies. We also learn to place central lines, arterial lines and chest tubes and do clinical placements in actual ICUs where we take our own patients and are expected to follow rounds and make a plan of care of our patients.

    We had an enormous amount of reading from the same book that the medical students use, sometimes hundred of pages a day, plus many, many papers on various disease processes during which we were expected to break down the pathology into it's absolute pieces of cell biology, physiology, and pharmacology so that we had a detailed understanding of not only what causes the disease but how it presents and how to treat it. We are already expected to have a working knowledge of gross anatomy from our undergrad nursing classes. We get extensively trained and tested in rhythm recognition and we've all gone through the ACLS class. When I study I use USMLE study materials. As for EKG interpretation I learned a lot of that working in a cardiac ICU but I have several books on the subject and regularly read and watch tutorials to keep up my skills. We follow the exact same pathways for treating heart disease as a physician would. We see the same patients and treat the same diseases in exactly the same way. We work as a team and in my experience the NPs are indistinguishable from the physicians.

    NP school isn't some silly walk in the park where we hold hands and skip through the flowers while gently folding blankets and giving back rubs. My school is one of the top in the nation and we regularly consort with the medical students sharing the same professors and texts. Whenever I read questions like this I always assume it must come from someone who's never worked in a level I facility or they'd already know how invaluable and how knowledgeable APRNs are already are.
  13. by   FullGlass
    Instead of comparing NP school to PA school, it would be more useful to decide what your career goals are. What kind of work do you want to do? Where do you want to work? What patient population do you want to treat?

    A key difference between NP and PA school is that NPs must declare a specialty immediately and the education is focused on that specialty only: Acute Care Adult/Geri, Acute Care Peds, FNP, Primary Care Adult/Geri, Primary Care Peds, Psych, etc. A PA receives training in everything and is most comparable to an FNP, except FNP is considered Primary Care.

    If you aren't sure if you want to specialize, then go for the PA.

    As for the science courses, an NP has already taken undergrad science courses, plus BSN patho, etc. One has to have an anatomy, physiology, microbiology and chemistry courses to get into BSN programs. Then the MSN NP training is advanced (graduate) patho and pharm. An NP student is expected to know anatomy, physiology, and microbiology already. With regard to anatomy, experienced MDs have told me that even recent med school grads can be weak on clinical anatomy.

    As far as EKG interpretation, all RNs and NPs receive education on this. Individuals who work in cardiology will receive extensive OJT plus there are many workshops available on this topic.

    NPs, PAs, and MDs all have the same treatment approach: assess, diagnose, treat, and follow up. Supposedly NPs have a more "holistic" approach, but in today's climate where all providers have to see 3 or 4 patients per hour, it's not really the case. Personally, I do think the NP role, which requires the RN as a prereq, attracts a different personality type. The nursing model is based on caring, not just on treating.
  14. by   FullGlass
    I would also like to point out that NPs have full practice authority in almost 1/2 of states and in those states, an NP can set up their own practice. This is also true for all Federal Govt jobs. In contrast, PAs must work under an MD in all states and in the Fed Govt. They cannot set up their own practice.

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