Allied Health Professionals

 

What is a Physician Assistants (PA)?

Physician assistants are health care professionals licensed to practice medicine with physician supervision. As part of their comprehensive responsibilities, PAs conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, counsel on preventive health care, assist in surgery, and in most states can write prescriptions.

PAs are trained in intensive education programs accredited by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant (ARC-PA) .

Because of the close working relationship the PAs have with physicians, PAs are educated in the medical model designed to complement physician training. Upon graduation, physician assistants take a national certification examination developed by the National Commission on Certification of PAs in conjunction with the National Board of Medical Examiners. To maintain their national certification, PAs must log 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years and sit for a recertification every six years. Graduation from an accredited physician assistant program and passage of the national certifying exam are required for state licensure.

 

What areas of medicine can Physician Assistants work in?

Physician assistants (PAs) are found in all areas of medicine. Today, over 50 percent of all physician assistants practice what is known as "primary care medicine" - that is family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology. About 19 percent are in surgery or the surgical subspecialties.

Physician assistants receive a broad education in medicine. Their education is ongoing after graduation through continuing medical education requirements and continual interaction with physicians and other health care providers.

 

Where do PAs "draw the line" as far as what they can treat and what a physician can treat?

What a physician assistant does varies with training, experience, and state law. In addition, the scope of the PA's practice corresponds to the supervising physician's practice. In general, a physician assistant will see many of the same types of patients as the physician. The cases handled by physicians are generally the more complicated medical cases or those cases which require care that is not a routine part of the PA's scope of work. Referral to the physician, or close consultation between the patient-PA-physician, is done for unusual or hard to manage cases. Physician assistants are taught to "know our limits" and refer to physicians appropriately. It is an important part of PA training.

 

Can PAs prescribe medications?

Forty-seven states, the District of Columbia, and Guam have enacted laws that authorize PA prescribing.

 

What does "PA-C" stand for? What does the "C" mean?

Physician assistant-certified. It means that the person who holds the title has met the defined course of study and has undergone testing by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). The NCCPA is an independent organization, and the commissioners represent a number of different medical professions. It is not a part of the PA professional organization, the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA).

To maintain that "C" after "PA", a physician assistant must log 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years and take the recertification exam every six years.

 

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

A nurse practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse with advanced academic and clinical experience, which enables him or her to diagnose and manage most common and many chronic illnesses, either independently or as part of a health care team. A nurse practitioner provides some care previously offered only by physicians and in most states has the ability to prescribe medications.

NPs focus largely on health maintenance, disease prevention, counseling and patient education in a wide variety of settings. With a strong emphasis on primary care, nurse practitioners are employed within several specialties, including neonatology, nurse-midwifery, pediatrics, school health, family and adult health, women's health, mental health, home care, geriatrics and acute care.

Nurse practitioners are educated through programs that grant either a certificate or a master's degree. A registered nurse is recommended to have extensive clinical experience before applying to a nurse practitioner program. An intensive preceptorship under the direct supervision of a physician or an experienced nurse practitioner, as well as instruction in nursing theory, are key components to most NP programs.

Because of the close working relationship the NPs have with physicians, NPs are educated in the medical model designed to complement physician training. Upon graduation, nurse practitioners take a national certification examination developed by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners or the National Certification Board of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. To maintain their national certification, NPs must log 100 hours of continuing medical education every two years and sit for a recertification every six years. Graduation from an accredited nurse practitioner program and passage of the national certifying exam are required for state licensure.

 

What areas of medicine can Nurse Practitioners work in?

Nurse Practitioners (NPs) are found in all areas of medicine. Today, over 50 percent of all nurse practitioners practice what is known as "primary care medicine" - that is family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics, and obstetrics and gynecology. About 19 percent are in surgery or the surgical subspecialties.

Nurse practitioners receive a broad education in medicine. Their education is ongoing after graduation through continuing medical education requirements and continual interaction with physicians and other health care providers.

 

Where do NPs "draw the line" as far as what they can treat and what a physician can treat?

What a nurse practitioner does varies with training, experience, and state law. In addition, the scope of the NP's practice corresponds to the supervising physician's practice. In general, a nurse practitioner will see many of the same types of patients as the physician. The cases handled by physicians are generally the more complicated medical cases or those cases which require care that is not a routine part of the NP's scope of work. Referral to the physician, or close consultation between the patient-NP-physician, is done for unusual or hard to manage cases. Nurse practitioners are taught to "know our limits" and refer to physicians appropriately. It is an important part of NP training.

 

What does "NP-C" and “PNP-C” stand for? What does the "C" mean?

Nurse Practitioner-Certified and
Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Certified.
It means that the person who holds the title has met the defined course of study and has undergone testing by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners or the National Certification Board of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners. To maintain that "C" after "NP", a Nurse Practitioner must log hours of continuing medical education and take the recertification exam every six years.