Can a Nurse Become a Physician Assistant?

PA Coaching • May 25, 2023

The way to become a Physician Assistant may vary depending on your individual circumstances. However, Nurses can certainly become PAs, and this video will answer you the question “Can a Nurse Become a Physician Assistant?”

Can a Nurse Become a Physician Assistant?

The healthcare field offers various career paths for individuals with different backgrounds and aspirations. Nurses, for instance, have the option to become nurse practitioners (NPs) or physician assistants (PAs). In this article, we will explore the possibility of nurses transitioning to the role of a physician assistant and discuss the considerations and requirements involved in pursuing this career path.

Why Would a Nurse Consider Becoming a PA?

Nurses may choose to become PAs due to differences in training or personal preferences. Some nurses may have worked alongside PAs in different healthcare settings and find that the PA role aligns better with their goals. The decision to become a PA or NP is highly personal and dependent on individual circumstances.

Leveraging Clinical Experience

Nurses often possess excellent clinical experience in caring for patients, making their transition to a PA role advantageous. This experience can be used to accumulate patient care hours, a prerequisite for applying to PA schools. Moreover, working as a nurse allows individuals to earn a good salary while gaining valuable clinical experience, which can support their journey towards becoming a PA or NP.

Additional Coursework

While nurses possess a strong foundation in healthcare, there may be additional coursework required to meet PA program prerequisites. Some prerequisites for nursing programs may not directly translate to PA programs. Nurses may need to evaluate their transcript and determine if they need to take additional courses, such as anatomy or psychology, to fulfill PA program requirements. However, this additional coursework does not pose a significant barrier and can be managed by aspiring nurses-turned-PAs.

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Prerequisites and Application Requirements

To apply to a PA program, candidates must hold a bachelor’s degree, making nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing eligible to apply. Nurses aspiring to become PAs need to fulfill the same requirements as other applicants, including patient care and clinical hours, volunteer work, shadowing a PA, writing a personal statement, and demonstrating leadership and extracurricular activities. The application process involves competing with applicants from various healthcare backgrounds, such as medical assistants and physical therapists.

Considering Training Styles and Curriculum

It is important to note that the training style for PAs differs from nursing education. PAs are trained in a medical model, similar to physicians, whereas nurse practitioners follow a nursing model. Nurses should research and evaluate the training styles and curriculum of PA and NP programs to determine which aligns better with their career goals and learning preferences.

Financial Considerations

Financial costs are an important aspect to consider when choosing between becoming an NP or a PA. Nurses already working as registered nurses (RNs) often have opportunities for financial assistance from their employers, which may make pursuing an NP program more financially viable. Considering one’s financial responsibilities and exploring options for financial support is crucial in making an informed decision.


In conclusion, nurses can indeed become physician assistants by leveraging their clinical experience and fulfilling the necessary prerequisites and requirements. The decision to become a PA or NP should be based on personal preferences, educational models, financial considerations, and individual circumstances. Nurses have a wide range of career options available to them, including becoming doctors, nurse practitioners, or physician assistants, allowing them to choose a path that aligns with their goals and aspirations in the healthcare field.

Also read: How Long Does It Take To Become a Physician Assistant?

About me:

I’m Michele Neskey, aka The Posh PA. Welcome to my YouTube channel! My mission is to provide personalized guidance, education, and motivation to build confidence and promote wellness for aspiring physician assistants and beyond.   

Having been a PA for 17+ years and helped hundreds of students gain acceptance into PA school,  I understand the admissions process. I know what they are looking for, and I can help you tailor every component to make you shine, giving you the BEST chance of getting accepted to a program.  But it doesn’t end there. I create personalized plans for PA students and practicing PAs including test-taking strategy for the PANCE, contract negotiations, and tools to overcome and prevent provider burnout. 

My goal is to get you into a physician assistant (PA) school & survive the rigorous program, help you prevent burnout as a practicing PA, and help you take care of yourself so you can be the best version of YOU for your patients, family, and most importantly YOU!