“My Doctor recently retired and I have been assigned to a new provider, but they are a Nurse Practitioner or a Physician Assistant. What does that mean, and what is an NP or a PA?” This is a common scenario that may have happened to you, and it may be a bit confusing.
Both “PAs” and “NPs” have become an integral part of the healthcare team and are providing needed access to care. This is especially true in the realm of primary care. Due to a number of factors, including less primary care physicians and more patients, there is a shortage of providers to deliver care to all the patients in need. This is where PAs and NPs have become integral to meet the ever increasing demand for healthcare.
What is the training of these providers? NPs and PAs obtain a Master’s Degree at an accredited school for Nurse Practitioners or Physician Assistants. Most students will have completed a Bachelor’s Degree prior to entering their program. The Master’s program is typically 2-3 years. In addition, prior medical experience is required to apply to a PA or NP program. In the case of NPs, they practice as a registered nurse prior to applying to a Nurse Practitioner program. For PAs they may have experience as a phlebotomist, medical scribe or any number of other healthcare related areas. As with traditional medical school, there are multiple science based undergraduate requirements to qualify for a PA or NP Master’s program. Many of the NP and PA programs are also associated with a medical school that includes training for traditional medical students. The programs for these future providers include both classroom training and internship training. The internship year of schooling entails spending time with both specialty and primary care providers to put the classroom knowledge to work in the real world of medicine. When the schooling is completed, both NPs and PAs must take a certification exam to test their medical knowledge. This certification exam is required before a Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant can enter practice and treat patients.
I believe the most important part of any provider’s practice is to use the knowledge and experience you have gained to treat patients to the best of your ability. Sometimes, that means acknowledging that you may need the assistance of a more experienced provider or specialist to assist you in the care of a patient. As a Physician Assistant and primary care provider I am part of a healthcare team. By accessing the healthcare team, I use the advantage of combining my own knowledge and experience with other providers. This includes my colleagues, and specialists. By doing so, the goal is always to create the best possible outcome for the patient. When you come to the Grants Pass Clinic, no matter which provider you see, you will have a team of well qualified individuals caring for you.
By: Ben Moss PA-C
Proud Member of the Healthcare Team at Grants Pass Clinic