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How does the role of physician assistant differ from other healthcare professionals?

Posted January 27, 2021

This chart helps explain how PAs fit in among others who provide similar levels of care:

Physician Assistant (PA) Clinical Assistant Nurse Practitioner (NP)
  • Not a physician or independent practitioner.
  • Must work under supervision of a physician and are trained to work under physicians in clinical settings.
  • Does not hold a medical degree, but has other post-secondary training.
  • Most commonly found in hospital settings as part of a healthcare team.
  • A physician who is not eligible to practise independently.
  • Typically an International Medical Graduate.
  • Doesn’t have equivalent clinical training to practice independently.
  • Hold a medical degree and at least one year of Post Graduate Training.
  • Generally hired for supervised practice in hospital settings.
  • A nurse who has pursued post-graduate training.
  • NPs, along with registered nurses (RNs), do not require supervision of a physician.
  • NPs/RNs have their own skillsets, scopes of work, standards of practice, etc.