“Are you the Nurse?”
“What’s a PA?”
“When will I see the doctor?”
These are common questions patients have when introduced to a Physician Assistant. We will help you identify the differences between a Physician Assistant, a Nurse Practitioner, and Physician to make a more informed decision on selecting who to see for your appointment.
Physician Assistants and Nurse Practitioners
Physician Assistants, or more commonly PAs, are health care practitioners who can assess, treat and manage medical conditions, including prescribing medications. Their training is based on the medical model, similar to medical doctors. They go through at least 2 years of intensive post-graduate training, along with several years of undergraduate coursework. PAs work in every specialty, including internal medicine, pediatrics, sub-specialties like Gastroenterology, surgery, and in all types of medical settings. PAs and Nurse practitioners, or NPs, are known as Advanced Practice Clinicians or APCs. While NPs and PAs are very similar in how they practice day-to-day, their training is slightly different.
NPs must have a degree in nursing. They also have to choose a population focus – sometimes called a track – for their training, such as critical care or pediatrics. Training for NPs focuses on assessment, treatment, and management of disease, but their training is not based on the medical school model like PAs. Many NPs will say they have a more holistic training compared to PAs. However, as a patient, your experience should not be significantly different between an NP and a PA. Both PAs and NPs can perform some procedures, order diagnostic tests, assist in surgery, and manage your care.
While there are several states that allow NPs to practice independently, most NPs and PAs work collaboratively with physicians to provide the best patient care possible.
Physicians or “doctors” are healthcare providers who have gone through extensive undergraduate and post-graduate training. They may have an “M.D.” or a “D.O.” behind their name. Much like NPs and PAs, the letters behind physicians’ names don’t alter the kind of care you will get. It has more to do with the physician’s training than how they practice day-to-day. Many physicians, like Gastroenterologists, go through several years of specialized training, called a fellowship, on top of their basic medical training.
Our physicians have 2-4 years of specialized training in Gastroenterology before they start practicing.
What are the differences?
Physicians and APCs do many of the same things, but there are a few differences. While APCs can assist in surgery, a physician will be the primary surgeon on a case. APCs work in collaboration with physicians, while physicians work independently. Physicians in our practice perform procedures such as colonoscopies, EGDs (esophagogastroduodenoscopies), ERCPs (Endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography), and EUS (endoscopic ultrasound) and undergo extensive training in these procedures as part of their fellowship.
Our physicians and PAs at Digestive Health Specialists work together to bring you the best care possible. Whether you’re seeing a physician or PA in the clinic, know you are being treated by healthcare providers who have your best interest at heart.
Our Physician Assistants:
Have you been treated by a Physician Assistant? Let us know.
By: Margaret Bozdech, PA-C
Physician Assistant at Digestive Health Specialists.
She works at our Winston-Salem location.
Learn more about her here: https://digestivehealth.ws/provider/margaret-bozdech-pa-c/
Digestive Health Specialists, PA is here to help if you, or someone you know, would like more information, or if you are experiencing any digestive health symptoms and would like further evaluation. Feel free to give us a call at 336-768-6211 or fill the form below.