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The APRN specialties include several options, such as Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Anesthetists, or other roles. They all require the minimum of a master’s degree to work in their field to provide care to patients. Nurse Practitioners are trained to assess, diagnose, and treats a patient in specialized settings such as mental health, women health, or pediatric. A Nurse Anesthesia administer anesthesia before surgery and monitor patient’s recovery. They can work where ever anesthesia’s is delivering, such as hospitals, pain management specialties, dental offices or plastic surgeries.

Nurse Practitioners (NP) represent the most dominant largest group of advanced practice registered nurses that deliver primary care serving patient’s in a wide range of settings. They can apply skills in technology and information literacy and engage in practice inquiry to improve health outcomes, policy, and health care delivery. Areas, of increased knowledge, skills, collaboration, complex decision making, leadership, and the business of health care (Harmic, 2014). A Physician Assistant (PA) is part of the medical team that practices medicine under the direction of a supervising physician. They may order interpret the test, such as lab work and Xrays, perform exams and prescribed various procedures.

Both Physician Assistant and Nurse Practitioners requires a formal degree of education and are trained to provide care to a variety of patients. NP may also need to apply for additional responsibilities at the state level, such as prescribed medication. Physician assistant medical exam is called physician assistant national certifying examination (PANCE) and do not require a complete residency. Nurse Practitioners can sit for either the American nurses credentialing center (ANCC) or the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) certified exam. NP exam is more specific to population focus, such as pediatric, prenatal, geriatric and adolescent. A Physician Assistant works in close collaboration related to that of their supervising physician. NP is autonomy and can work solo and decide how long they want to work. Also, they can carry out some tasks independently without supervision by a physician, depending on state laws (Cresswell, 2013). Both can specialize and work in particular areas of medicine.

Some of the similarities of the roles are the requirements of a license to practice and continuing education courses. They provide direct care with a broad range of patients in their fields. All three specialties play important roles in the health care settings.


Hamric, A. B., Hanson, C. M., Tracy, M. F., & O’Grady, E. (2014). Advanced practice nursing: an integrative approach (5th ed.). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier/Saunders.

Cresswell, S. (2013). What’s the difference between a physician assistant and nurse practitioners? Retrieved from