17Mar 2017

shutterstock_107831294Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants: Who are they and what do they do?

With the increasing demands on healthcare services and Physicians in particular, healthcare roles such as a Physician Assistant (PA) and Nurse Practitioner (NP) have evolved and developed over recent years. In the past, these roles were known as “mid-level” healthcare providers; however this term can portray these highly qualified and skilled healthcare professionals to only provide an average or mediocre service to patients which is far from the truth! In fact, NP’s and PA’s undergo extensive and rigorous education and clinical training followed by robust state examinations before attaining a license to practice and treat patientsa,1.

Let’s look at the table below, which outlines the similarities and differences between their extensive training and their roles as healthcare professionals in patient care.

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Although their training is different, both NP’s and PA’s can work in private practice, hospitals, ambulatory centers and can specialize within a particular field of medicine or population1,3. NP’s blend clinical expertise in their assessment, diagnosis and treatment of health conditions with disease prevention and health education resulting in a comprehensive health care plan1. PA’s assess, diagnose and treat health conditions focusing on their clinical and scientific expertise and experience3. A point that is often forgotten but fundamental to quality healthcare is the time spent with patients. NP’s and PA’s often have more time with patients – thus increasing the value and quality of the care patients receive. Casey Grillo, one of our NP’s sums it up with a simple but fitting thought: “Nurse Practitioners… The heart of healthcare.” Here at The Spine & Pain Institute of New York, our highly qualified and skilled NP’s and PA’s work alongside our attending Physicians as a team; assessing and treating each patient based on their individual needs. Each patient case is discussed in detail using the best available evidence. Combining these backgrounds provides a platform for our patients to receive the highest quality of care. So… whether you are seen by our NP’s, PA’s or attending Physicians during your visits with us, rest assured you will receive the most advanced, beneficial and appropriate treatment and care available!


  1. aanp.org (American Association of Nurse Practitioner’s)
  2. Criteria for Evaluation of Nurse Practitioner programs, 2012, 4th
  3. aapa.org (American Association of Physician Assistant’s)