What’s an advanced practice provider?

Now more than ever, we have come to see the importance that healthcare professionals play in our lives. Health professionals are involved in the study, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of illness, injury, and disease, as well as other physical and mental impairments within the populations they serve. Through the promotion of health and the use of preventive and curative medicine, these professionals are essential to improving health outcomes. Here are the groups of healthcare professionals who fall under the umbrella of “advanced practice providers.”

Physician Assistants

Physician Assistants (PAs) are medical professionals that can perform many duties including physical examinations, the diagnosis and treatment of illnesses, ordering lab tests, interpretation of lab tests, assisting with surgical procedures, performing procedures, performing hospital rounds, prescribing medication, and patient education. Often, they’re a patient’s main healthcare provider. Currently, PAs can practice in every state and in every medical setting and specialty, where they can greatly improve access to healthcare and improve the overall quality of the healthcare being provided. 

A study done in 2020 estimated that the number of PA graduates from 265 programs numbered approximately 10,000 and it was estimated that about 200 entered a postgraduate program in 2020.  With its increasing popularity, there are now approximately 113,990 PAs in the United States of America.  Additionally, according to rankings of the 100 Best Jobs in America and Best Healthcare Jobs by U. S. News and World Report in 2021, Physician’s Assistant holds the number 1 spot based on factors such as growth potential, work-life balance, the ability to positively impact lives, job availability, the sense of independence, and salary. These factors continue to make it an in-demand career. Plus, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job offers for PAs will rise by 37% by the end of 2026

Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners

An Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP) is a registered nurse who completes a graduate-level educational program (at least a master’s degree in addition to initial nursing education and licensing required for all registered nurses). An ARNP can be given primary responsibility for patient care. ARNPs can treat and diagnose illnesses, give advice on public health issues, and help with the management of chronic diseases. 

There are currently four advanced practice nursing specialties, which include: Nurse Midwife (CNM), Nurse Practitioner (NP), Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), or Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA). Within these categories, providers can specialize in specific patient areas such as mental health, pediatrics, gerontology, nephrology, women’s health, neonatology, oncology, emergency medicine, or family medicine. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, APRNs can expect job growth of 45% through 2029. 

As populations age and there is increased demand for highly skilled health care, APRNs will continue to be in demand. Though the number of graduating APRNs in 2021 is not known, the number of licensed nurse practitioners in 2021 surpassed 325,000.

As such, the scope for Physician Assistants and Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners is growing and it is expected to continue for some time to come. With benefits such as salary, independence, and the in-demand nature of the job, perhaps it is worth your time considering these as career options.