Practicing Clinicians Exchange - CME for NPs & PAs.
What is the difference between NPs and PAs



Do You Know the Differences Between
NPs & PAs?

Nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) are increasingly mentioned as a collective solution to the nation’s primary healthcare shortage. There are approximately 205,000 NPs and 104,000 PAs in the United States providing cost-effective patient care, preventive care, and health promotion. But what exactly is the difference between these 2 groups of healthcare clinicians? Practicing Clinicians Exchange provides a quick snapshot of how these growing professions compare:

NURSE PRACTITIONER

Definition

  • Registered nurse (RN) with advanced education and clinical training
  • Provide a wide range of healthcare services, including the diagnosis and management of common as well as complex medical conditions
  • Practice independently or in collaboration with physician, depending on state requirements

Philosophy/model

  • Medical/nursing model
  • Patient-centered
  • Besides health assessment, diagnosis, and treatment, NPs focus on health promotion, disease prevention, health education, and counseling

Certification/licensure

  • Nursing accreditation and graduate education (masters or doctoral degree) with preparation in the NP role and at least 1 specialty population
  • National board certification in acute care, adult, family, gerontology, neonatal, oncology, pediatric, psychiatric, or women's health specialties
  • Major national certifying agencies: American Association of Nurse Practitioners and American Nurses Credentialing Center

Recertification

  • Recertified every 5 years
  • May sit for appropriate examination or meet clinical practice and continuing education (CE) requirements
  • Minimum of 1000 hours of clinical practice as an NP in area of specialization and 75 contact hours of CE relevant to the area of specialization
  • Pharmacology credits required for some recertification

Scope of practice

  • Authorized to practice independently without physician oversight in 21 states and DC; in remaining states, practice with varying degrees of physician involvement
  • Prescriptive authority in all 50 states and DC
  • Controlled substance prescribing restrictions in Florida

Third-party coverage and reimbursement

  • Eligible for certification as Medicare and Medicaid providers
  • Generally receive favorable reimbursement from commercial payers

physician assistant

Definition

  • Medical professional with advanced education and clinical training; focused on medical aspects of healthcare
  • Take medical history, conduct physical examinations, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive care, assist in surgery, write prescriptions, make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes
  • Licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision

Philosophy/model

  • Medical/physician model
  • Disease-centered, emphasis on the biologic/pathologic aspects of health, assessment, diagnosis, and treatment
  • Team approach relationship with physicians

Certification/licensure

  • Graduate education
  • Separate accreditation and certification bodies require successful completion of an accredited program
  • Require National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants national certification examination and state licensure

Recertification

  • Requires 100 continuing medical education (CME) credits every 2 years and examination every 10 years
  • 50 CME credits must be Category 1 and 20 of the 50 must be directed CME (self-assessment and/or performance improvement)
  • PA certification maintenance mirrors physician maintenance of certification process

Scope of practice

  • Supervising physician delegates medical tasks to PAs in accordance with state regulation
  • Prescriptive authority in all states based on state-enabling legislation
  • Controlled substance prescribing restrictions in Florida and Kentucky
  • On-site supervision not required

Third-party coverage and reimbursement

  • Eligible for certification as Medicare and Medicaid providers
  • Generally receive favorable reimbursement from commercial payers

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