CASES OF NOTEEducational Preparation of Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants An Exploratory ReviewBednar, Susan RN-C, ANP; Atwater, Alison PA-C, MS; Keough, Vicki PhD, RN-C, ACNPAuthor Information Evanston Northwestern Health Care, Emergency Services, Evanston, Ill (Mss Bednar and Atwater); and the Niehoff School of Nursing, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, Ill (Dr Keough). Corresponding author: Susan Bednar, RN-C, ANP, Evanston Northwestern Health Care, Emergency Services, Evanston, IL 60201 (e-mail:). Advanced Emergency Nursing Journal: April 2007 - Volume 29 - Issue 2 - p 158-171 doi: 10.1097/01.TME.0000270339.19380.16 Buy Metrics Abstract This article provides an overview of the differences and similarities in educational preparation of nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs) along with requirements for entry into each program, graduation, and certification. Using an exploratory descriptive design, a convenience sample of 50 NP and 50 PA programs was accessed over the Internet. The major finding in this study is that high-quality educational requirements exist for both NPs and PAs. NPs and PAs are educated under very different models of practice. PA programs tend to follow a medical model tradition of education with a generalist preparation, while NP programs build on a baccalaureate nursing educational framework and require students to choose a specialty NP program (i.e., family, adult, women's health, pediatric, acute care, etc.). NP education is completed primarily on a part-time basis while PA education required a full-time commitment. Entry into practice requirements is also different; while all NPs are required to have a minimum of a master's degree in nursing, PAs can currently practice with a certificate, associate, baccalaureate, or master's degree. NP and PA programs also have different requirements for admission. NP candidates must have the equivalent of a bachelor's degree in nursing, and many programs prefer a minimum of 2,000–4,000 hr of professional nursing experience. Requirements for all PA programs consist of 2 years of college coursework in the basic premedical sciences; along with appropriate healthcare experience (most schools prefer some healthcare-related experience; American Academy of Physician Assistants, 2006). A PA student entering a master's level program must also have a baccalaureate degree. In comparing educational curriculums, didactic content is very similar among both programs. Didactic and clinical hours required for graduation are also examined. A detailed discussion of the similarities and differences in educational preparation of NPs and PAs is presented. © 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.