The Nursing Model vs The Medical Model: Which is Better?

Medical professionals who seek advancement in their career in healthcare may find it challenging to choose between the nursing model and medical model. Physician Assistants practice under the Medical Model while Nurse Practitioners or Advanced Practice Registered Nurse practice under the Nursing Model.

Studies have shown that students that will pursue an advancement in medical profession are overwhelmed with the choice that they need to make as they go on with their career and select among the different medical opportunities that is best suited for them.  

Choosing the right medical profession can be incredibly challenging. Both models are diverted towards excellent patient care but their approach towards health care differs. 

The best among the two models of care have been debated for years including the similarity and difference between APRN and PA. Let us tackle on that and see what we find out. 

Medical Team


In today’s era, there is an undeniable rise in the need of medical attention and care. With that, the demand for professionals in the medical field is also escalating, thus the birth of Nurse Practitioners and Physician Assistants. These two careers are under the umbrella of advanced practice providers but are not physicians. Let us examine the difference between nursing and medicine.

What is Nursing Model

The nursing model is what nurse practitioners traditionally follow. The nursing model focuses on the patient and its psychosocial factors as a whole. This holistic approach does not only focus on the disease process and diagnosis but also the mental, physical, and emotional aspects.

What is Medical Model

The medical model on the other hand is followed by Physician Assistants. The medical model of healthcare definition focuses more on an evidence-based practice that mostly focuses on the disease process, pathophysiology, and treatment.

The model focuses on the medical education and practice leading to patient care and treatment. Basically, in the medical model, the disease cause is established, the effect is determined, and the treatment is proposed.


NPs and PAs most likely need bachelor’s and master’s degree to pursue the respective careers. However, the difference in nurse practitioner and physician assistance education can be seen in their required courses, trainings, and clinical experience.

NPs must obtain a nursing education, advanced education, and extensive clinical training. They are acknowledged as a primary or specialty care provider providing medical care with a combination of nursing approach. NPs must hold a Registered Nurse license with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree with 1-2 years of RN experience. After that, a master’s degree must be pursued with a certain specialty in a specific field. 

PAs in the medical model must have a bachelor’s degree specifically in the basic and behavioral sciences field, have an experience in healthcare, then proceed to an accredited program for PAs.

Scope of Practice Medical Model Versus Nursing Model

The medical model and nursing model have substantial similarities and differences in their scope of practice especially in their patient care approach and most of them are mandated by law on each specific state. 

Physician Assistants in the medical model basically revolve their scope of practice more likely of a Physician with some key differences. The most important aspect is that PAs are mandated by law to work in collaboration with a Physician. Conversely, nurse practitioners can practice independently or in collaboration with a physician depending on the state law. 

Under the medical model, procedures and assisting in surgeries may be performed by PAs while NPs focuses whole in nursing care and bedside care during hospitalizations. Furthermore, there will be major differences in the number of hours dedication to clinical trainings that must be completed.  NPs must dedicate 500-700 hours while PAs around 2000 hours. 

Although the clinical trainings may be similar in some areas, NPs devote their clinical education in a chosen specialty in the medical practice such as oncology, acute care, family practice, or pediatrics. On the Contrary, PAs clinical experience revolves around broader aspect where they are required to rotate on a wide array of medical specialties. In this case, PAs have wider options for medical practice and has more advanced generalized education than NPs. 

Even With the several differences, both medical professionals perform patient assessment, treatment prescription, and perform diagnostic examinations. Nurse practitioner vs physician assistant scope varies but each of them are important when it comes to patient care.

The Nursing Model vs The Medical Model: Which is Better?

Approach to Patient Care

This is where the major differences occur. Although the medical and nursing model both aim to provide excellent patient care and disease treatment, their respective approach or philosophy differs in certain ways. The medical model vs nursing model, which is better?

The Nursing Model

NPs first educated under the nursing model of patient care focuses on holistic and patient – centered care. Florence Nightingale’s environmental theory greatly affects the patient care with nursing approach. In her theory, the patient’s environment greatly affects his recovery. 

In the NP model, nurse’s framework is guided by nursing theories that define the different aspects of nursing care and the rationale behind it. The principles revolve around the nursing process that include assessment, diagnosis, plan, implementation, and evaluation. 

The nursing model utilized the holistic approach that emphasizes the focus of the patient as a whole and not the disease process alone. In this approach, support system, environment, and social circle are taken into consideration.

Aside from determination and cure of the disease, the nurses’ model will also consider how the disease and treatment will affect the person’s physical, emotional, and mental well-being. The goal is to provide patient care relating to the disease process and the patient’s psychosocial implications and health education. 

The nurse practitioner care model tells us that care should not stop when the disease is cured, in fact, care will continue. Other options will be considered to promote health and prevent recurrence of disease and promote healthier lifestyle. The nursing model has a wide understanding of health and wellness most importantly health education.

The Medical Model

If you are wondering what the medical model emphasizes, then it will be evidence-bases treatment of disease condition. 

The medical models of care are utilized by physicians and physician assistants. The very core of the medical model is to provide patient care focusing on the identification and treatment of the disease itself without considering any other psychosocial elements. In this model, patient care is directed towards the treatments needed to achieve health by absence of disease. 

The medical model is more of a health and illness approach, when there is no illness, the individual is healthy. The primary focus is the disease process itself. In this model, assessment and diagnosis is performed based on pathology, biology, diagnostic exams, and procedures. When the diagnosis is made and disease is identified, treatment options pertaining to the symptoms and disease process will be implemented.


With the question, is a nurse practitioner above a physician assistance or is a physician assistant above the nurse practitioner, is undetermined. As you study each model and each profession, you will realize that both is important in the healthcare industry. 

There are similarities and differences in the patient care and disease cure and prevention process. Even though the education and approach are different, the main goal of promoting health stands the same.