An article about physician assistants and nurse practitioners appears in the NY Times Jobs section. The article does a very good job of explaining both professions though I would disagree with a few of the statements.
Another important difference is that P.A.’s are generalists, while nurse practitioners train in a specialty like family medicine or women’s health. As a result, P.A.’s can switch fields more easily. - I would say that isn't necessarily true. Since the majority of NPs are trained in family health, I think it's just as easy for these FNPs to transition into different roles.
To patients, the two roles can seem very similar. Salaries can be similar, too. The average total income for physician assistants in full-time clinical practice is about $86,000, according to the P.A. academy. The average total income for nurse practitioners is $92,000. - average salary of $92k? I think that sounds pretty high. Most of the NPs that I know are in the $70 - $90k range and I am referring to the metropolitan New York area. A quick jump to salary.com is consistent with that range. There are higher paying jobs in large cities and they are usually affiliated with large hospital systems. The good news is that salaries are on the increase as the demand for advanced practice clinicians is growing.
Finally, the affectionate term of "mid-level" provider is used in the article. I guess I can't fault them since the term is used commonly to collectively describe NPs and PAs. In reality, it is a poor descriptor. It insinuates the care we deliver is somehow not as good as say, a "high-level" provider (not sure who that would be and how one would become such a provider.)What would that make RNs, EMTs, Medics, respiratory therapists, etc - "low-level" providers?!?
Overall, it is great to see these types of articles in the media. The better that the public is educated about our roles, the easier it will be to practice without barriers. Patient's are increasingly choosing to have care delivered by NPs and PAs and will continue to do so as the abysmal health care system sputters along. We afford an imediate solution to this crisis and are ready, willing and certainly able.