Sunday, August 10, 2008

Ready, Willing and Able

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 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.


Lauren F said...

Stephen, your blog is SUCH an amazing resource. It's hard to find people and/or articles who (intelligently) comment on the true state of our sick-care system. And, sadly, the bias that still exists toward non-physician medical professionals.

Stephen Ferrara, NP said...

Thanks for your comments, Lauren. It's nice to know that people share similar views and are reading my blog.

Anonymous said...

Stephen, thank you for your review of the NY Times article about NPs and PAs. Your statements about the NP/PA roles and salaries are very valid and I would like to add another point. While looking for an NP job I have found PAs tend to receive higher pay than NPs, and many of the NP jobs are paid similar (and sometimes less than) the average RN wage. This is incredibly frustrating for me as a new NP provider. Why should NPs be paid the same or less than RNs and less than PAs? NPs provide billable revenue producing, high quality patient care services, yet NPs are not reimbursed accordingly for these services by many employers. As long as NPs willingly work for low wages, there will be no incentive for employers to reimburse NPs at an appropriate professional salary level for their services. Thank you for allowing me to share my point of view.. Ruby C.

Jason FM said...

Dear Stephen,

I hope you will allow me to jump in on a post almost 3 years old now, but still relevant.

I have been an RN for 6 years now, and was recently enrolled in a CRNA program. I felt the pressure to be transparent to my patients, and often find myself using "mid-level practitioner" language to colleagues and friends when discussing advanced practice roles. I feel it is necessary to use understandable language to be both honest and clear. I, of course, share your view of the value of these roles and I admire your thought-process and willingness to share this with others.

How do you differentiate yourself (which I believe is necessary, especially when people don't know the difference) and yet maintain the value of the role?

Jason F