What are the roles of physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and medical assistants in a primary care office?

A physician assistant (PA) is an expert in general medicine who undergoes rigorous medical training, according to the American Academy of Physician Assistants (AAPA). PAs are tested in general medicine before being licensed and certified.

A nurse practitioner (NP) is also considered a medical expert with an extensive evaluation and certification process, according to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). NPs focus on caring for the health and well-being of the whole person.

Both PAs and NPs can do physical exams, take a medical history, provide a diagnosis, write prescriptions. and more, according to Premier HealthNet (PHN) physicians. They both work under the license of a physician, who coaches them on patient care options.

A medical assistant (MA) works alongside physicians, PAs, and NPs to help with both administrative and clinical duties, according to the American Association of Medical Assistants (AAMA). MAs serve as a liaison between the medical care providers and patients.

Clinical duties of an MA could include taking medical histories, explaining a treatment procedure, instructing patients on medications or diet, and drawing blood, according to the AAMA.

For more information about the role of physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and medical assistants, talk with your primary care provider.

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