Jump to content

If accepted to R.N and P.A school, which would you pick?


To make a long story short, I will be in school a year longer than expected for pre reqs due to a setback in my GPA from 10 years ago. I have decided to take additional courses that apply to the P.A program as well as my R.N pre reqs then when the time comes I will apply to both just in case I need a plan B to fall back on. My question is if you were accepted to both schools, which one would you pick based on the current and future conditions of both careers?

It depends what you want to do. I've read quite a bit on the PA forums and I've decided that being a PA is not what I'd want to do.

A couple things that have gone into that consideration

1) There are a few areas that NPs dominate over PAs and pediatrics and psychiatry are two of those areas. Not to say it is impossible for PAs but if those are areas of interest, then it is something to consider.

2) If you want to do surgical procedures, it seems that PAs have more of a chance of being able to participate in surgical procedures. Some advanced nurses do participate in surgical procedures but it seems to be less than PAs. I have no interest in performing surgical operations.

3) Certain organizations utilize NPs/RNs over PAs. I was recently reading on the Doctors without Borders site that they do not use PAs in the field but they do use various nurses, RNs and advanced nurses.

The situation is unique to you- what matters most?

Nursing more flexibility, PA more money and autonomy. Although, with that PA's autonomy comes the responsibility and work of basically doing all of the MD's grunt work. I've heard being a PA described as being a resident for the rest of your career.

That said, I'd never be a PA (or a NP for that matter). But I know PAs that love what they do.


Specializes in Pediatrics, ER. Has 6 years experience.

PA school. I ended up applying and getting accepted this year but had to decline due to unforeseen circumstance. Haunts me!


Specializes in Transplant/Surgical ICU. Has 3 years experience.

If I wanted to be a nurse: nursing school, if I wanted to be a PA: PA school. That was easy!

Very different jobs... Are you comparing cause you would like to pursue an NP career if you chose the nursing route?

Nursing school -- you can always do your NP, and work as an RN while you're doing it -- but I really believe nursing gives you much more flexibility than PAs. Plus in many states, I believe that NPs actually have more autonomy than PAs.

It's also a very different mindset -- NPs are nurses first, PAs are very much like doctors and use the medical model. You're not in school yet and therefore may not really get the difference, but I think there is one. I'm still new enough to nursing that I don't think I can explain it well, but ask around, I bet some other people can explain it better. That might make your decision for you.


Specializes in Anesthesia. Has 10 years experience.

If you plan to be a CRNA or NP, choose RN...if not, I would choose PA. Less schooling...you don't have to go through 3-4 yrs for RN school, and then going through the process to apply again to school to get accepted....and take another 2-3 yrs for CRNA/NP. It all really depends on what job you pick up as a PA...surgery, family practice, etc. So, when it comes down to it, what do YOU want to do. When I was in nursing school, a classmate of mine got accepted to PA school and left.


Specializes in ER. Has 19 years experience.

Ok, where do I start....the whole ideology of NP's taking care of the whole patient is perpetuated by the academic world in their efforts to differentiate themselves from others. In my 20yrs as a RN I honestly can't tell the difference in the care that experienced NP's give from experienced PA's. Every NP I've ever worked with practice medicine, no "Advanced nursing". I'm sorry if this stepped on any toes but it's what I've seen in numerous encounters with NP's and PA's alike.

Now, the idea that PA school is less schooling is absolutely false, research PA education a little before you make that comment. Every PA school has different admission requirements, same with nursing. Some require a BS degree and some don't. Some award AS degrees, some give BS degrees and some give MS degree's. It does not mean you can do the bare minimum and still get in, my school awards an AS degree but 90% of our class have their BS degree. But all these degree differences isn't anything different than the direct entry BSN or MSN programs out there.

PA are able to change specialty area with ease, PA's can do psych and peds and OB and whatever other area you want to work. Can't do anesthesia but don't really want to anyway. Most every PA school will do 1500 to >2000hrs of clinical rotations compared to 600-1000hrs in NP school. NP's have independent practice in a number of states and that is something many will throw out there as their badge of honor but if you ask many of them about where their own practice is then, well, very few actually have their own office. Personally, I don't want to worry about keeping the lights own, just let me see patients and give me my check on Friday, something that is echoed by many of the NP's I've worked with. People will also toss the supervision thing about PA's, true, I'm tied to my SP and we have to have a delegation of services agreement for my practice but the job I'm taking next year when I'm done my SP's office and my office are about 30 miles apart. He has to be available for phone consult or email or whatever means to get in touch and 4hours in my office a month to sigh charts.

These are just a few things, sorry to drag it out but in closing I'd say, personally, I would have never gone to nursing school if I'd known about PA's 20yrs ago. It took me the last 5yrs to get financially stable enough to not work for 2yrs while in school. Big advantage of NP school is part time and full time status in school and the ability to work close to, if not, full time hours. PA school, very few work, none in my class but there are some that worked in PA school but you'd be hard pressed to find them. Every NP I've ever worked with, worked during school except one girl and she was an ER nurse that married one of the surgery residents. There's no shortcut to either route so chose what is the best fit for you. Talk to some NP's and PA's in your area, visit schools and educate yourself on both professions and then you will have the info needed to come to your own conclusion and not listen to the ramblings of some unknown PA student that hasn't slept in about a year and trying to recall what the difference is between the negative-negative and positive-positive or was that the negative-positive or positive-negative trendeleburg test for varicosities......think I need another 5 hour energy.