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The value of PAs and NPs

Written by Leigh Neely

Many doctor’s offices now include physician assistants or nurse practitioners who see patients but many are unable to use their knowledge and ability to the fullest extent.


Unlike many jobs in the health-care field, physician assistants (PAs), advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs), and nurse practitioners (NPs) are in a growth spurt right now. In 2001, an estimated 103,612 NPs and PAs were employed, according to the U.S. Library of Medicine in the National Institutes of Health. Since that time, the number of graduates has increased every year, according to the blog midlevelu.com, an online community of nurses and physician assistants. The number of NPs steadily increases 3,000-4,000 students per year, which is likely due to more online courses being offered, the blog says. Courses for PAs have not made it online yet.

The Florida Association of Nurse Practitioners believes ARNPs and NPs could be the answer to Florida’s health-care problem, part of which is 48 percent of physicians in Florida are expected to retire in the next 10 years. However, Florida’s restrictions to NPs keep them from filling the gap caused by the shortage.

The number of NPs steadily increases 3,000-4,000 students per year.

FANP says removing these restrictions could ease the burden for patients who would otherwise go to an emergency room for treatment. This drives up cost, which is then placed on taxpayers. Removing the restrictions for NPs, according to FANP, and letting these qualified medical professionals practice to the fullest extent would require no extra dollars to the state budget, but would mean easier access to health care, immediately reducing ER visits.

Beverly Connolly, PA-C, is a physician assistant at MacInnis Dermatology in Leesburg, Mount Dora, and The Villages. “As a PA, my goal is to provide patient-centered care and treat everyone as I would like to be treated,” Beverly says. “A PA is a reflection of their supervising physician. I am fortunate to work with Dr. (Colleen) MacInnis and Dr. (Kay) Johnston, two amazing people, as well as exceptional dermatologists. There is never time when a PA stops learning, and when one can learn from the best, it can only make us better.”  With a possible income of up to $120,000, it would seem beneficial for current college students to consider this as an advantageous career.

About the author

Leigh Neely

Leigh Neely began her writing career with a weekly newspaper in the Florida panhandle, where she not only did the writing but delivered the papers to the post office and dispensers. She has been writing ever since for a variety of newspapers and magazines from New Jersey to Leesburg. With her writing partner, Jan Powell, Leigh has published two novels as Neely Powell.

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