Nurse Practitioners (NP) and Physician Assistants (PA) bring immense value to their respective health care organizations, providing exceptional patient care and adding clinical support to care teams.  

Hospitals and the health care system as a whole need this essential group of clinicians—currently numbering more than 450,000 in the U.S. alone, according to the latest figures—in their staffing mix. 

How do NPs and PAs add value to the Healthcare team? 

NPs and PAs are part of the healthcare team and provide similar services as physicians.  Their scope of practice is dependent on state regulations and hospital by-laws. NPs and PAs have the ability to examine patients, diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and collaborate with other team members to provide high-quality healthcare. 

A few of the ways NPs and PAs add significant value to the organizations they serve include sharing the workload, providing exceptional patient care, increasing throughput, easing the recruiting burden, reducing surge impact, and affordability. 

Hospitals and the health care system as a whole need this essential group of clinicians—currently numbering more than 450,000 in the U.S. alone, according to the latest figures—in their staffing mix. 

Why NPs and PAs Should Add Value to Their Careers 

NPs and PAs who work towards new certifications and specialization increase their knowledge and skillsets and open more career opportunities.  

Cultivating skills in multiple areas, such as pediatrics, critical care, or long-term and hospice care, increases job security, enhances job qualifications, provides options to work in a broader variety of clinical settings, and adds value to patients and organizations alike. 

Nurse Practitioner Specialties  

Most people think of a Nurse Practitioner in family practice, but many are not. An APRN (Advanced Practice Registered Nurse) specializes in a specific role as a CRNA (anesthesia), CNM (midwife), CNP (nurse practitioner), or CNS (nurse specialist).  

While all of these APRNs may be referred to as Nurse Practitioners, the role they play may be very different. A CRNA can relieve the heavy lifting of a busy operating room or be the primary anesthesia team member in small or rural settings. CNMs provide holistic obstetric care by guiding preconception through post-delivery follow-up care. A CNP typically specializes in family practice, pediatrics, or either adult or pediatric medicine acute care. CNPs choose to practice primary or acute care but more and more are choosing to dual certify as the patient population is becoming sicker. This allows them to maintain scope of practice while serving their patients' needs. CNSs also specialize in a specific area of medicine but often extend their role into healthcare management, research, and teaching. With the many ways APRN's practice, they impact patients' lives every day. 

The Nursing Licensure Map website lists 13 different specialty areas NPs can pursue. Some of the common specialties are: 

  • Family Nurse Practitioner – Can see all age groups and practice primary care. 
  • Pediatric-Primary Care Nurse Practitioner – Most NPs who specialize in pediatrics see and treat up to age 21 for primary care-related illnesses. 
  • Pediatric-Acute Care Nurse Practitioner - Specialize in pediatric acute care medicine for ages up to 21. 
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner -Treatment of neonatal patients. 
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner – Treatment of both inpatient and outpatient psychiatric care. 
  • Woman's Health Nurse Practitioner – The care and treatment of pregnant patients and women's care. 
  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner – The treatment of acute patients, with a focus on patients ages 13 and older.  
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner - The treatment of primary care patients ages 13 and older. 

NPs who specialize in acute or critical care (AGACNP)—a growing subspeciality—avail themselves of increased hospital opportunities (e.g., emergency departments and ICUs) where they can focus on acute, critical, and complex chronic physical and mental illnesses. AGACNPs can also implement invasive procedures to stabilize patients, such as placing central lines, performing lumbar punctures, and introducing intubation. 

There are more and more APRNs that are choosing to specialize in other fields. The APRN consensus model guides the APRN to the appropriate certification needed to maintain scope of practice. For those seeking an administrative or education role, many opt for the DNP or Doctorate of Nurse Practitioner certification. 

Physician Assistant Specialties 

PAs can consider Certificates of Added Qualifications (CAQ). These additional credentials certified PAs could earn in various specialties, including emergency medicine, hospital medicine, cardiovascular and thoracic surgery, pediatrics, psychiatry, and more.  

Earning a CAQ demonstrates that, in addition to meeting the arduous standards for becoming a physician assistant, a PA has gained specialized expertise and gone above and beyond educationally to better serve patients in specific healthcare settings.

SCP Health has considerable experience with PAs with emergency medicine or hospital medicine and knows just how valuable they are in hospital environments. An EM or HM CAQ helps physician assistants maximize their utility in their practice environment and career advancement opportunities.

This certification is not an entry-level credential. Emergency medicine and hospital medicine CAQs involve an experienced-based mastery level competency process. PAs must demonstrate advanced knowledge and expertise in emergency or hospital medicine, in addition to what is required of entry-level PAs or PAs working in a generalist practice.

NP/PA Independent Practice 

NP's and PA's scope of practice varies by state. Some states are more lenient than others, offering fuller autonomy and a degree of freedom that permits these practitioners to diagnose, treat, and prescribe medications absent a physician's oversight. 

More states are allowing independent practice to bridge the gap of physician shortages and take advantage of these advanced practitioners' increased skill levels.  

Learn How SCP Health Can Add Value to Your Career 

Physician assistants and nurse practitioners make up the foundation of SCP Health's health care teams. Currently, this group of professionals constitutes 25 percent of our clinical provider workforce. We value their valuable contribution to the healthcare team and support them with the tools, education, and leadership opportunities that matter most. 

If you are ready to discover the value joining SCP Health can bring to your career advancement, review our current NP and PA job postings. You may find just the right opportunity to fit your goals. 

Related Resource:  
Optimizing NPs and PAs in Your ED Program: What's the Outlook?