Difference Between PA and Nurse

Being sick and suffering from diseases is a part of life. It cannot be avoided or terminated. Therefore it becomes important to get the right treatment at the right time by the right people.


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Doctors are the people that we look the first in any of these cases or related situations. But except for them, some other professionals’ help is also available. Examples of these can be nurse and physician assistance.

Both of them take care of sick and unhealthy people. But the thing with these professions is that not most people are aware of the differences between both of them.

PA vs Nurse

The difference between a PA and a Nurse is that agreement in the case of PA depends on the physician he is working under, but in the case of the nurse, it varies from state to state. Also, supervision of a physician is compulsory in PA, while it may or may not be compulsory for a nurse. Both of them are different type of practitioner, PA is a disease-centered practitioner, that studies the disease deeply whereas Nurse is a patient-centered practitioner that interacts with patients more. Both of them also differ in terms of salary, re-certification period, education and qualification, etc.

PA vs Nurse

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PA is a certified person in graduation under the physician assistant course. Their scope of practice is based on the agreement they have signed with the physician.

They always work under supervision and re-certify after ten years and require 2000 hours of clinical practice. They are more disease-centered, which means they are more concerned with prescribing medicines and tests.

A nurse is someone who has done graduation from a nursing program and has certified. The scope of practice of a nurse varies from state to state or country to country. They can re-certify after five years of practice.

They are more patient-centered, which means their work is more on patients and taking care of them. They can practice independently but sometimes work under supervision.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPANurse
Scope of practiceDefined by an agreement.Depends on the state.
Supervision of PhysicianRequiredMay or may not be required
SalaryHigh salaryLow salary
Re-certification10 years5 years
Type of practitionerDisease centeredPatient-centered

What is PA?

PA or Physician Assistants is a certified person. They examine the patient and gives a prescription for the medicine.

Following are the duties and responsibilities of a Physician Assistance:

  1. They have to interview and communicate with the patient to understand with disease or the cause of his sickness. They have to make sure the proper care is taken.
  2. After communication, they have to prescribe all the necessary tests to identify the nature of sickness.
  3. They prescribe the medicines and precautions that they have to take care of to make sure they don’t fall sick again.
  4. In case of cuts, they have to stitch the wounds. They also have to place the bone correctly if there is fracture or dislocation.
  5. Administer immunization.
  6. They also have to maintain the records of patients.
  7. They should communicate with the patient clearly to understand their problem and make sure they don’t feel uncomfortable.

A Bachelor’s degree is a must for practicing as a PA and 2000 hours of clinical experience. It is a very popular profession, and therefore it also offers a good amount of salary.

They are trained in the field of anatomy, pathology, clinical medicines, microbiology, hematology, pharmacology, etc., and post-nominal initials for them are:

  • PA
  • PA-C (PA – certified)
  • RPA (registered PA)

What is Nurse?

A nurse is a profession in the medical field; it is associated with taking care of patients. The nurse has the following duties:

  1. Patient care: this is the main duty and responsibility of a nurse. He has to take care of the patient and make sure they are getting whatever is required without any problem and difficulty. They help the patient to recover, prevent illness, treat health conditions, etc. it is their responsibility to check the monitor regularly. They take proper care of them that may include their spiritual and developmental needs.
  2. Patient advocacy: along with the care, they have to advocate the patient’s best interest and while maintaining their dignity. They have to suggest to their patients the best plan and support them the most while making any medical decisions.
  3. Planning care: as mentioned above, their main role is not to take proper care of the patient, but for that purpose, they have to plan how they are going to accomplish that. They make necessary decisions; they should communicate thoroughly with the patient and plan their activities and schedule as the patient need.
  4. Patient education and support: nurses are also responsible more making the patient well aware of their condition and provide education to them about the cause and treatment. They have to educate the patient about the precautions and methods they should apply after discharging from the hospital.

A person is required to have a bachelor’s and masters digress in nursing. Or he should have done a diploma in the nursing course.


Main Differences Between PA and Nurse

  1. The main difference between a Physician Assistants and a Nurse is that both of their scopes of practice are different. In the case of a Physician, Assistance is defined by an agreement with the Physician in charge, whereas in the case of a Nurse, it depends on the agreement of the state mainly.
  2. They differ in terms of supervision of Physician for Physician Assistance it is mandatory to work under supervision, while for Nurse it may or may not be mandatory.
  3. When compared in terms of salary, Physician Assistance gets a higher salary in comparison to a Nurse who apparently gets a low salary.
  4. Both of the profession needs to re-certify but the period after they required this is different. For physician assistance, they require to re-certify after ten years, whereas in the case of a nurse, they require to re-certify it after five years.
  5. Both of them require different educational qualifications, Physician Assistance required to have a bachelors and masters in physician’s assistance studies, while the nurse is required to have a degree of bachelor and masters in nursing practice.
  6. Last but not least, for the certification process, a nurse should have 500 to 700 hours of clinical experience, whereas a physician assistant must have 2000 hours of clinical experience.
Difference Between PA and Nurse
  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1748-0361.2009.00252.X
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1077558713495453
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