Physician Assistants And Nurse Practitioners

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The medical field is among the largest and ever growing career fields, especially when dealing with Physician Assistants (PAs) and Nurse Practitioners (NPs). In the 1960’s when the physician shortage began, the medical field created the PA and NP positions to fill in the gaps (Curren, 2007, p. 404). This matter has opened up numerous questions as more and more PAs and NPs begin practicing, especially concerning their education level. Many patients are concerned that they will not get the proper care. PAs/NPs are beneficial to everyday life by providing patients with the necessary skills needed to successfully treat them.
Current Research
How the Program got its start
When the first physician assistant (PA) and nurse practitioner (NP) career fields got their starts, the education was a lot different from what it is today. In the 1960’s, when the first wave of the physician shortage hit the United States, this left physicians scrambling to fill in the gaps. The medical field looked towards ways to help fill in the gaps with the best possible options. Jill Curren (2007), a nurse practitioner, points out that this meant that they needed highly certified healthcare professionals that could do the job of a physician, but these healthcare professionals had to be educated in half the time that it took to become a physician (p. 404). Physicians working at Duke University began to notice a pattern among combat medics. A lot of the medics and doctors that had served in Vietnam had little or no medical training, and most of their medical training occurred while on the job. Therefore, the PA program was born with its roots stemming from the military. “They started the first PA education program, training these medics similarly to the way phy...

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...rained for specialty practices. Two-thirds of today’s PAs work in specialty care. This, therefore, leaves NPs to work in general practice (p. 828). Woolsey and Cutter (n.d) seem to have a different opinion by stating “PAs are generalists while NPs can be either [specialist or generalist] depending on the area of medicine they practice” (para. 5). They go on to explain that PAs are trained to generalize, so that they can hop from one area to another (Woolsey & Cutter, n.d., para.5). PAs have the ability to specialize if they complete a residency program, but one important thing to note is that a PA is still documented as a generalist whether or not they have specialized (Woolsey & Cutter, n.d., para.5). Woolsey and Cutter (n.d.) then note that NPs often have to have a national certification in a nursing specialty before they can practice within a specialty (para.5).

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