Doctors & Physician Assistants
Allopathic Medicine (MDs) and Osteopathic Medicine (DOs)-Physicians (both MDs and DOs) practice in all the same areas of medicine. They diagnose and treat illness, prescribe medications, order and interpret tests, and perform surgery. Medical school is 4 years beyond undergraduate study followed by a residency (on the job training) of 3-8 years depending on medical specialty.
Physician assistants provide diagnostic, preventive and therapeutic care as designated by a licensed physician (MD or DO). PAs are trained as generalists but can also work in specialty areas. They perform physical exams, diagnose and treat illness, order and interpret lab tests, prescribe medication, suture wounds, assist in surgery, provide patient education and counseling, and make rounds in hospitals.
Nurse practitioners practice at the same level as physician assistants. They order and interpret tests, diagnose, prescribe medications, and devise treatment plans. Currently most students earn a master's degree, but it may shift to a doctoral program. Students either start from a nursing program as undergraduates or if they have a degree in something other than nursing, they can enter a second degree nursing program to earn their RN or BSN in about 15 months. They can then start working as a nurse and apply to a nurse practitioner program--most of which are structured for working nurses.
- Career Options
- Medicine & Physician Assistant
- Dentistry & Optometry
- Veterinary Medicine
- Physical & Occupational Therapy
- Public Health & Health Administration
- Podiatry & Chiropractic Medicine
- Anesthesiologist Assistant
- Genetic Counseling & Human Donation Science
- Orthotics/Prosthetics & Athletic Training
- Audiology & Speech Language Pathology
- Naturopathic Medicine
- Pathologists Assistant
- Forensic Science