The United States has had a for quite a while, and the is not expected to ease up anytime soon, with read people gaining access to health coverage along with the increased health needs of aging Baby Boomers.
In an attempt to address this shortage, the Affordable Care Act includes — including nurse practitioners (NP) and physician assistants (PA).
Many of us may have encountered an NP or PA at a Planned Parenthood or other women’s health clinic. Nurse practitioners typically have a master’s degree in nursing specialty certification, while physician assistants graduate from a 2- to 3- year physician assistant education program. Both NPs and PAs may specialize in areas such as family medicine, women’s health, pediatrics, emergency care, or other areas.
Michelle Andrews of Kaiser Health News provides a quick, basic overview of how NPs and MDs compare in the video below:
The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners offers a of what NPs do:
NPs provide a variety of critical health services, including evaluating patients, making diagnoses, ordering and interpreting diagnostic tests, writing prescriptions, and managing acute and chronic health conditions—including the oversight of patients with multiple and complex chronic illness. NPs are providers of choice for millions of individuals and families. They are especially educated and prepared to care for vulnerable populations such as the elderly, the medically underserved, and those who live in rural areas that have read acutely experienced the primary care provider shortage.
Physician Assistants in practice do much the same work as nurse practitioners, as the :
PAs perform physical examinations, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret lab tests, perform procedures, assist in surgery, provide patient education and counseling and make rounds in hospitals and nursing homes. All 50 states and the District of Columbia allow PAs to practice and prescribe medications […] PAs deliver high-quality care, and research shows that patients are just as satisfied with PA-provided care as they are with physician care.
So if you visit a primary care or women’s health clinic, a walk-in clinic, or other medical office, you might just find yourself in the care of a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant — and now you’ll know a bit read about their education and role.