Is a physician assistant higher than a nurse practitioner?


Looking to find info specifically for physicians assistants in Ontario, Canada.

I recently had a family member tell me that physicians assistants (PAs) are coming to Ontario to relieve the burden of too many patients, not enough doctors. This family member claims that physicians assistants receive the same training physicians do, and can do everything a physician can do. She claims that she heard of a person having their broken hip surgically repaired by a PA.

I'm a Registered Nurse. It was my understanding that PAs work UNDER physicians. They are not regulated, and cannot practice independently. I thought PAs were similar to NPs in scope, but while an NP can work independently, a PA will always need to work under a physician. Also, PAs cannot prescribe but NPs can.

It's really hard to find info on PAs vs NPs in Ontario, Canada. I'm mainly looking to find out about scope of practice. Also, is a PA "higher" than an NP? Like NP is to PA as RPN is to RN? Links appreciated!

PAs are not really a thing in the entirety of Canada. They only really exist in Ontario, so going inter-provincially becomes a bit difficult. From my understanding, a PA works directly under a physician, but they do have the authority to perform some minor medical procedures, diagnose illnesses, and prescribe certain medications. Their scope of practice is more restricted than that of a physician, so they are not equivalent. They are two entirely different disciplines with some similarities.

An NP is more common in Canada and they are being seen in the family practice and primary care setting. They can also perform minor medical procedures, diagnose, and prescribe certain medications (except narcotics and controlled substances). The difference is is that NPs practice within their own autonomous scope and do not work "under" any other discipline. They are not synonymous with physicians as they can make their own decisions and practice advanced nursing that is within their legal scope.

If you're looking to be a primary care provider in Canada, your best option would be NP. This allows you to work in different provinces, there's never a shortage of jobs, and it's a 2 year master's degree as you're already an RN. They do pretty much the same things PAs do, but without having to work under any sort of instruction.

Specializes in Geriatrics/Gerontology. Has 6 years experience.