The Physician Assistant Life

Physician Assistant vs. Nurse Practitioner vs. Medical Doctor

Profession Comparison Chart (updated September 2015)
Programs vary and the following represents averages for each vocation.

Category Medical Assistant Nurse
(RN, BSN)
Nurse Practitioner Physician Assistant Physician
(Family Practice)
Prerequisite Education
None

None

Bachelor Degree in Nursing
& clinical hours

Bachelor Degree
& clinical hours
for most

Bachelor Degree

Learning Model
-
Medical-Nursing
Medical-Nursing
Medical-Physician
Medical-Physician
Time in Classroom
134 hrs
Varies greatly
by program.
500 hrs
1000 hrs
2 years
Time in Clinic
160 hrs
Varies greatly
by program.
500-700 hrs
2000 hrs
2 years
Total Post
High School Education
1-2 years
2-4 years
6-8 years
6-7 years
8 years
Residency
None
None
None
Optional
1-2 years
depends on specialty
3-8 years
Degree or Certification Awarded
Certificate or Associate Degree
Associate or Bachelor Degree

Master's Degree

Planned Transition to Doctorate

Physician Assistant Certified (PA-C)

Most also award Master's Degree. Some now pursuing PHD

Doctor of Medicine (M.D.)

Doctor of Osteopathy (D.O.)

Recertification
60 education points or exam every 5 years
1000 hours practicing in area of certification  specialty OR exam every 5 years

1000 professional practice hours AND ~15 CE credits/year OR exam every 5 years

100 education hours every 2 years

Exam every 10 years

MD: 50 education hours every year & ABMS certification recommended

DO: 120 education hours every 3 years & ABMS certification recommended.

Base Salary U.S. National Average 2010

$29,708

$66,220

$97,990

$97,280
$185,151

Duties Performed

Independent Practitioner
18 states allow NPs to practice independently
X
Complicated or High Risk Cases
VARIES
ASSIST
X
Perform Surgery
ASSIST
ASSIST
X
Deliver Babies
X
VARIES BY STATE
X
Write Prescriptions
X
X
X
Prescribe controlled substances
VARIES BY STATE
VARIES BY STATE
II-V in MOST states
X
Conduct Physical Exams
ASSIST
X
X
X
Diagnose
X
X
X
Treat Illness
X
X
X
X
Order & interpret tests
ASSIST
X
X
X
Patient counseling
X
X
X
X

 

Source: A Patients Guide to The Physicians Assistant

 

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