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Physician Assistant vs Nurse Practitioner (PA vs NP) in Canada 2020

Canadian Physician Assistant versus Nurse Practitioner in 2020

There are Canadian PA’s in Canada but they can’t practice in all provinces. They can only practice in four. The schools for PA’s are only found on the east coast. However the nature of the job is very similar to nurse practitioners. Nurse practitioners are more well known in comparison to physician assistants and are therefore easier for the average citizen to understand in terms of scope of practice. Do I believe that NP’s are better than PA’s or vice versa, no. They are part of a team to provide care as a provider.

Scopes & Limitations:


Physician Assistants are great providers that have a degree in a health care field. It is like a nursing program but you become a provider. It is usually 3-4 years of school. They can work in various settings, but are generally called upon to work in the hospital environment. A physician assistant has to work under a physician at all times. They can specialize in a certain setting, where they are able to provide great care to patients.

What is a Physician Assistant (PA)?

• Physician Assistants (PAs) are health care professionals who work under the supervision of a physician.

• PA scope of practice is determined by their physician colleagues and the rules and regulations of the province in which they are practicing.

• PA’s provide a broad range of healthcare services in primary and specialty care, including patient assessments, clinical investigations, diagnoses and treatment plans, therapeutic interventions, and counselling on preventive care.

Great Resource:


Nurse practitioners are providers but have more autonomy depending on which province and which country you work. In the states there are areas where NP’s can work autonomously and do not require physician presence. The NP route makes sense for me as I already have a degree in nursing and I want to have the flexibility of working autonomously if I want to.

Great Resource:



  • 3-4 years to obtain bachelors in nursing
  • Pass NCLEX
  • Work as a RN for at least 1-2 years.
  • 2 – 4 year Masters NP program

Physician Assistant:

  • 2 years post bachelors program


Salaries between the two are difficult to compare as there is not much reliable information I can utilize to get numbers from. Also, it is important to note that each province is a bit different in how they compensate physician assistants. Here are some things I found on the internet.

Physician Assistants:

Canada Overall:

  • $81,000 – 102,600

Nova Scotia:

  •  $69,300 – $121,158

New Brunswick:

  •  $69,300 – $121,158


  •  $84,600 – $104,400

Toronto Area

  •  $84,600 – $90,000


  •  $97,434 – $97,434

British Columbia

  •  $82,386 – $96,138


  •  $79,200 – $106,200

Highest Paying Average: Alberta

Most Paying: New Brunswick and Nova Scotia

Nurse Practitioners:


Canada Overall:

  • 87,854 – 101,400


  • 94,323 – 165,000


  • 85,000 – 106,415


  • 95,550 – 113,100


  • 89,700 – 107,250


  • 115,329 – 122,178
  • 98,030 – 115,329

Main differences that I can think of:

  • NP’s have more autonomy. They have more hospital experience by nature of their schooling. There are many more NP schools than PA schools. More well known than PA’s amongst the general public.

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