Back to blog

Should Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants Have Their Own Autonomy?

There has long been a debate as to whether or not Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician Assistants (PAs) should have autonomy to practice on their own. This debate has intensified as telemedicine has begun to play a larger role in healthcare. While NPs and PAs argue that restrictions requiring physician supervision create limitations on the volume of care, physicians counter that oversight is necessary to ensure that patients receive the best care possible. With so much information on both sides of the issue, we compiled a list of pros and cons to the argument for NP and PA autonomy. 


  • Advocates of reform in terms of scope of practice, supervision, and delegation of authority think these measures will boost productivity, lower cost of care, and improve access to healthcare services.
  • Research found PAs and NPs provided equivalent care to diabetes patients, while increasing access to care especially in rural areas.
  • With the COVID-19 pandemic overwhelming healthcare systems, NPs and PAs argue that they are needed to help treat patients just as physicians would.


  • While physicians are required to complete 4 years of medical school with over 15,000 hours of training, PAs are only required to complete their online education with 2,000 hours of training, and NPs log as few as 500 clinical hours before finishing their education. 
  • As a result, physicians believe there are patient safety concerns with regards to using unsupervised NPs and PAs, as they are more likely to misdiagnose an issue, test incorrectly, or prescribe the wrong medicine.
  • Moreover, NPs and PAs tend to order more tests and labs due to their comparative lack of expertise compared to primary care physicians which can lead to more healthcare expenditures. 

As the need for medical care increases, this debate is bound to continue until both sides can come together to reach an agreement. That being said, the American Medical Association recommends that physicians should always be in charge and supervise, but they should also work with NPs and PAs as a team.

With ezClinic’s telemedicine platform, NPs, PAs and Physicians are able to work together seamlessly and more efficiently to provide patients with the highest quality care. For more information on ezClinic, visit our website at