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CRNA vs NP vs PA

STICRN STICRN (New) New

Hi everyone! This is my first post on allnurses.

I have been working for a year or so in a Level 1 trauma hospital, Trauma ICU in Chicago, IL and have become very interested in pursing a Graduate degree. With that being said I do not know which direction to go. I graduated with a 3.8 GPA I am ready for a challenge and I want to broaden my scope of practice. I would GREATLY appreciate advice from current students/ graduates of CRNA, NP or PA programs around the Midwest area with opinions on pros and cons of these specialties.

As I am not willing to relocate outside of IL I have searched schools and programs and it seems that all schools around my area have transitioned CRNA and NP programs to only DNP's (please correct me if I am wrong). While PA programs are a Masters Degree.

I suppose im having a difficult time deciding on one program vs another because on our unit we do not use NPs or PAs only residents and attending physicians, so I have no seen what a PA or NP does on a day to day basis. I do see that there are job postings titled "NP or PA needed for...." are these specialties that similar that for the same job both NP and PA would perform equally?

Surgery is a specialty that I am highly interested in, but if I go this route as an NP or PA would I be caring for patients PRE and POST op as opposed to intra op. Or caring for the patients on the floor while the surgeons are in surgery?

I have seen that PA's can be in surgery, how involved in surgery are PA's? Do they perform as in cut/ suture/ harvest or do they just hand tools/ suction/ provide traction?

CRNA is appealing not only because of its salary but also because it is seen as the " crem de la crem" of a nursing degree, I would be highly motivated to not only get into a program but complete it.

I would love any insight or corrections to anything that I have mentioned above. Thanks!

This highly recurrent question reminds me of "should I be a doctor or an astronaut?". They are so different with the only thing in common is the perception of better pay, schedule and working conditions.

I would first choose what I wanted to do day in day out, warts and all. And then choose the advanced degree and followed by the program to get you there.

I suppose im having a difficult time deciding on one program vs another because on our unit we do not use NPs or PAs only residents and attending physicians, so I have no seen what a PA or NP does on a day to day basis.

I would say try shadowing someone in each specialty, rather than asking people on this website what the pros and cons of each career are. See if there are other units that have PAs and NPs. If they do not, try contacting PA and NP schools, especially local ones, to see how you can shadow an NP and PA. Try asking the attending physicians and people you know, if they know of any PAs or NPs that would be willing to let you shadow them. To me, this would be much better than any answer given on this website 1) because it will give you way more information to base a career decision on and 2) it can be something you list down when schools ask why you want to be a PA or NP.

As I stated I am interested in surgery, so I know CRNA's work in surgery but more by the monitor, while I have read around the internet PA's can assist the surgeon. With that being said I was hoping to get first accounts of PA's experience in surgery, and what they actually do. I haven't heard of NP's in surgery, more that they actually take care of patients on the floor while the MD is in surgery. Also I was wondering about the jobs that are titled " NP or PA ..." seeing as both would be fit for that job how entirely different is a NP to a PA.

As I stated I am interested in surgery, so I know CRNA's work in surgery but more by the monitor, while I have read around the internet PA's can assist the surgeon. With that being said I was hoping to get first accounts of PA's experience in surgery, and what they actually do. I haven't heard of NP's in surgery, more that they actually take care of patients on the floor while the MD is in surgery. Also I was wondering about the jobs that are titled " NP or PA ..." seeing as both would be fit for that job how entirely different is a NP to a PA.

At the hospital I'm at, PAs can cut and suture to assist. It's not unusual for a PA to do the final closing of an incision. I imagine that this would vary by state, but I'm not positive. We also don't use a lot of PAs, though, either. Something else you could look into is an RN first assistant, but that would require OR experience, and not all hospitals recognize them.

applesxoranges, BSN, RN

Specializes in ER.

You could look at First Assistant but you would have to get experience in surgery. I have seen more and more posts for first assistants.

While all the schooling is exhausting and expensive, make sure you make it worthwhile: as a NP or PA you'll be taking a paycut from bedside nursing since most of those positions are salaried. You do the same work as the docs but get paid pennies on their dollar. Many NPs are bitter about that. You may also find yourself having problems paying off your student loan.

CRNA is a financially sound choice but how long are you willing to take call and work nights?

These are just some hints, your decision depends on who you are as a person and what's important to you.

llg, PhD, RN

Has 43 years experience. Specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

I commend you for trying to do some research before jumping into grad school. Too many people rush into graduate school, unsure of a career path and unfamiliar with their options. They spend a fortune on degrees that don't lead them to a job they like. Do some homework (like you are doing here) and actually get some experience with fields/patient populations/job roles that seem interesting to you. Only then will you be in a position to make an informed decision.

Good luck

I commend you for trying to do some research before jumping into grad school. Too many people rush into graduate school, unsure of a career path and unfamiliar with their options. They spend a fortune on degrees that don't lead them to a job they like. Do some homework (like you are doing here) and actually get some experience with fields/patient populations/job roles that seem interesting to you. Only then will you be in a position to make an informed decision.

Good luck

Thank you for being so positive! I will defiantly take time to research different programs before I commit to one. This was my first step! Next step is to shadow PA / NP/ CRNA and take it from there.

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