Physician assistants complete a 27-month master’s degree program, which includes a combination of classroom and clinical rotations in a variety of specialties such as obstetrics and gynecology, emergency medicine and psychiatry, according to the American Academy of PAs. They then must pass a national certifying examination and complete 100 hours of continuing education every two years. PAs also must pass a recertification exam every 10 years.
Once certified, physician assistants can diagnose illnesses, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, perform procedures and more, making them versatile and collaborative. They work with at least one supervising physician.
Much like physician assistants, nurse practitioners can also examine patients, prescribe medications, diagnose illnesses and provide treatment plans.
Most nurse practitioners have earned a nursing degree to become a registered nurse before continuing on to complete a master’s or doctoral degree and advanced clinical training. They must then receive national certification and be certified by the applicable state board before practicing, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners.