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I have always fancied a career in advanced healthcare, but I am not currently open to making the commitment required to become a doctor. Currently, am considering pursuing physical assistant or a nurse practitioner. The two careers provide options to professional who desire to pursue an advanced healthcare career. This paper thus paper examines the two careers to determine which among the two suits me best.

Physician assistant job is a fast-growing occupation. The physician assistant jobs are estimated to increase by approximately 33,300. The bureau forecasts a much more rapidly than average physician assistant jobs of 38% by the same year (“Nurse Practitioner vs. Physician Assistant”). The prospects of employment in the physician assistant field looks promising as the US is expected to experience an approximately 90,000 physician shortage by 2022, and the number is projected to increase to 130,000 physicians, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges (Hooker 411-12). This shortage will create job opportunities for a physician assistant who will be required to intervene and help fill this vital healthcare vacuum. Additionally, the 2014-2024 employment projection estimated 50,000 employment opportunities due to physician assistant career growth and replacement between 2014 and 2024 (“Summary Report”). [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]

The physician assistant’s job description involves providing health services which are performed by physicians. However, they discharge their functions under physician’s supervision. Although the physician assistant may perform some duties on independently, they must seek authorization from their supervising physician. Their duties include providing treatment, conducting complete physical, as well as counseling patients. Additionally, the physician assistant may prescribe medication. An individual considering a physician assistant career should expect a median wage of $98,180 annually (Japsen).

Physician assistants are required to have a master’s degree from a recognized physician assistant educational program. Additionally, physician assistant qualifies for certification by passing the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination while practicing under the supervision of a training physician (“Nurse Practitioner vs. Physician Assistant”). For a physician assistant to get a license to practice, most states’ medical boards require them to have a national certification and a master’s degree from a recognized medical school. Additionally, physician assistants are required to have continuing medical education hours adding up to 100hrs after two years and sit for a PANRE exam after every six years (Buppert 11). Physician assistants have an obligation to complete continuous education credit hours to maintain their certification.

Several aspects of physician assistant career make it appealing. One of these aspects is the amount of time spent on schooling and training which is relatively short. A student pursuing this field spends approximately a quarter of the time a nurse practitioner spends into graduate and finish their training. According to Chris Hanifin, who acts as the Seton Hall University physician assistant chairman, students take two to three years to finish most physician assistant programs (Smith-Barrow). Also, the physician assistant career is flexible; physical assistants are not limited to work in a particular medical specialty after obtaining their PA license (Smith-Barrow). The ability to practice in a different medical specialty without obtaining additional training is quite appealing. Finally, physician assistants have minimal administrative responsibilities which give them ample time to spend with their patients. This time allows them to establish relationships with the patients which is one of the work values associated with their job description and perform their duties efficiently.

My only reservations in pursuing a career as a physician assistant is a lack of independence and minimal opportunities to advance without additional schooling. A physician assistant always works under the supervision of a physician. However, I am inclined to pursue the career since the skills, knowledge, and values of physician assistant match my personal goals and values. My priority is not to lead or run a medical practice. The teamwork nature of the physician assistant career and the chance it offers to concentrate on attending the patients are the greatest features of the job.

The nurse practitioner is not as a fast growing occupation as compared to physician assistant field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated a 31% growth in the nurse practitioner field between 2012 and 2022 (“Nurse Practitioner vs. Physician Assistant”). Despite this growth being faster than average, it is still slower than the projected growth for physician assistant. However, according to the 2014-2024 employment projection, an estimated 74,700 nurse practitioner job opportunities arose due to the career growth and replacement between 2014 and 2024 (“Summary Report”). As with physician assistants, nursing practitioners will be needed to fill the vital health care roles as a result of the shortage of doctors. Therefore, the job opportunities for nursing practitioners also looks promising.

A nurse practitioner should usually expect a median wage of $98,190, which is almost equal to that of the physician assistant. Contrary to the physician assistants who perform their duties under the supervision of a physician, nursing practitioners have more independence when performing their duties. However, their education level, state’s laws, certification, and qualifications attained determines this independence (Cawley 412-14). [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]

Most states require a nursing practitioners to have a master’s degree to practice. Additionally, nursing practitioners must attain a national certification in their area of specialization (Aktan 59-62). Some states require the nursing practitioners to have the national certification in addition to a graduate or a master’s degree in order to award them with a license to practice. Every five years, a nurse practitioner takes a re-certifying exam. Unlike physician assistants, nursing practitioners may opt to complete between 75 and 150 ongoing education units along with completing not less than a thousand clinical practice hours instead of taking a test (Buppert 144).

The independence that the nurse practitioner gives and the better pay is quite appealing. The nurse practitioner works autonomously or in partnership with physicians (Aktan 1-3). The independence in their practice allows nursing professionals to decide their working hours personally. In occasions where their practice does not depend on others, nursing practitioners have control of their professional lives. However, a nurse practitioner in hospitals usually works for long hours varying between eight to twelve hours. Additionally, their services may be needed overtime or on-call medical emergencies. In many hospitals, most nurses have rotating shifts which are usually taxing and makes it difficult to arrange important personal occasions such as family vacations.

Despite the autonomy and the better payment associated with the nurse practitioner, the education training and the amount of time required to attain the training makes it undesirable. The nurse practitioner career path requires additional education requirements which increase the amount of time required before an individual can start practicing. Additionally, the career path requires a five-year prior experience in the medical field before enrolling in any nurse practitioner educational program. Nursing practitioners have an obligation to complete a master’s degree in nursing, or a doctorate in a particular medical field in some cases, in order to attain a license to practice and complete a residency. Also, they are required to renew their license after every five years to be up to date with the latest medical technologies and regulations.[Click Essay Writer to order your essay]

Another drawback associated with nurse practitioner career is potential legal risks. In most states, the nurse practitioner has the responsibility to diagnose, treat and prescribe medication to patients (Aktan 131-35). This legal risk opens the nursing practitioners to malpractice lawsuits from dissatisfied patients. Additionally, the Nevada Nurses Legal Handbook states that a nurse practitioner can face a civil or a malpractice lawsuits for any incorrect medication administration (Buppert 271).

After lengthy assessment between the two career paths, I believe the physician assistant career is best suited for me. Between the two career paths, the physician assistant career skills, knowledge, value, and goals best match my personal traits, values, and goals. Additionally, working under the supervision of a physician will enable me to gain firsthand experience to advance my career. Additionally, the physician assistant career education and training will take me a shorter period compared to the nurse practitioner alternative.

Aktan, Nadine M. Fast Facts for the New Nurse Practitioner: What You Really Need to Know in a Nutshell. 2nd ed., Springer, 2015.

Buppert, Carolyn. Nurse Practitioner’s Business Practice and Legal Guide. 5th ed., Jones & Bartlett, 2014.

Cawley, James F. “Physician Assistants and Their Role in Primary Care.” Virtual Mentor, vol. 14, no. 5, 2012, pp. 411-414.

Hooker, Roderick S. “The Contributions of Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners in Primary Health Care.” Health Care: Current Reviews, vol. 4, no. 3. 2016, pp. 411-414.

Japsen, Bruce. “Physician Assistant Pay Reaches $100K Annually.” Forbes, 29 Jan. 2016,

Marvasti, Akbar. “An Estimation of the Demand and Supply for Physician Services Using a Panel Data.” Economic Modelling, vol. 43, 2014, pp. 279-286.

Nurse Practitioner vs. Physician Assistant.” NurseJournal.Org,

Smith-Barrow, Delece. “Flexibility, Training Help Physician Assistants Forge a Medical Path.” US News & World Report, 25 Aug. 2014,

“Summary Report For: 29-1071.00 – Physician Assistants.” O*NET Online, \

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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