There’s a ton of different specializations within the medical field, most of which you can describe with the general term “physician.”  However, there are three medical jobs that don’t fall under this category, and it can be important to understand what makes them different from traditional medical professionals.


This term can describe doctors, surgeons, psychiatrists, and specialists of every stripe.  When you go to see someone about an ache or pain, odds are a physician is the person you’re looking for.  Some of them are primary care professionals, general practitioners (GPs), and dentists whom you see without any referral and with whom patients can have personal relationships.  Others tackle special cases identified by primary care doctors.

Physician Assistants

Physician assistants (PAs) are one response to the unpopularity of general medicine since specialist fields tend to pay much better.  A PA has a license to practice medicine and must pass a strict certification standard to qualify for that license, but their training focuses on general medicine and isn’t as extensive as the traditional path of a physician.  They also receive training in building medical teams based on a specific patient’s needs.  As a result, a medical student can become a PA faster and take on less debt while a hospital doesn’t have to pay as high a salary.  PAs are in very high demand.

Nurse Practitioners

Nurse practitioners (NPs) are another alternative for GPs and act in a primary care role.  Becoming one is simply a matter of going through additional training after becoming a nurse, and unlike regular nurses they have the power to practice medicine, diagnose illnesses, and prescribe treatments.  For nurses this is a big advantage because it enables them to take on more responsibilities and comes with a higher salary.  It’s also good for patients since an NP has the authority to take action during a medical crisis without having to wait for a busy doctor.

Medical Scribes

The biggest difference between medical scribes and the other categories on this list is that scribes have no license to practice medicine.  This prevents them from dealing with patients, but they assist a licensed healthcare provider by transcribing notes, navigating EMR systems, taking phone calls and setting up appointments, retrieving and logging test results, and other administrative tasks that take place in a clinic, hospital, and/or medical facility.  This frees up the nursing staff and other medical professionals to interact with their patients and provide the highest quality of care.

PAs, NPs, and physicians can all act as scribes, but that uses up time they could spend more productively and can lead to additional burnout.  Professional scribes helps clinics, hospitals, emergency departments, and other organizations work at full speed and see more patients every day. They also combat provider burnout and give providers peace of mind knowing that all of their charts are always completed the same day of service.


Author ProScribe

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