Nurse practitioners and physician assistants are advanced healthcare practitioners with similar responsibilities, such as diagnosing illnesses and prescribing medications. However, their training and paths toward certification differ in significant ways. This blog post unpacks the key differences between NPs and PAs to help you determine which career path best aligns with your goals. What Is a Nurse Practitioner? A nurse practitioner (NP) is a licensed clinician who provides comprehensive healthcare to patients of all ages. An NP can work in virtually any healthcare setting, diagnosing patient conditions and prescribing medications. As of October 2022, nurse practitioners have full practice authority in 27 states, meaning that they can practice Read more
At the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, we believe in the power of education to change lives and transform society. USAHS is committed to making a lasting impact in the communities we serve, and we are proud to be a Certified B Corp institution, joining a global movement of people working as a force for good. USAHS has been a Certified B Corp since 2015.
Our Certified B Corp status enables us to demonstrate our commitment to social impact and measure it, so that we can continue to expand and strengthen our efforts. Being a Certified B Corp institution underscores our social mission and is aligned with our national movement to address critical health care needs in this country. Our commitment to the pillars of B Corp Certification challenges us to continually think about how we impact the environment, the community, our employees, and our students.
This video showcases just a few of these efforts:
What is a Certified B Corp?
Around the world, organizations, including the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences, are undergoing rigorous reviews by the nonprofit group B Lab in their quest to become a Certified B Corp organization. These organizations are leaders who are committed to using business as a force for good. They meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. They aspire to use the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.
We believe that advancing our communities starts with healthy people. That is why we are committed to our mission of educating exceptional health care professionals who will be leaders in their fields. Since our founding in 1979, the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences has remained solely focused on graduate-level health sciences education. That singular focus has allowed us to thrive as we address critical shortages within the health care industry.
- Our purpose is in direct response to the community need for access to specialized health care from practitioners with advanced training. USAHS provides vital access to educational programs that directly impact the community effort to combat critical shortages in health care.
- The health care crisis in the United States is well documented. The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences is part of the solution necessary to fill the widening gaps in health care as an aging population increases the demand for specialized care. More than 250,000 of the new jobs forecasted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics by the year 2026 will come from the health care disciplines that USAHS offers.
Our educational approach fosters the holistic development of students through service learning, a hallmark of the student experience at University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences. It benefits both students and the community by cultivating a deeper understanding through service to others, critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, and collaboration. Beyond our University campuses we seek to be an active contributor, leading and collaborating in opportunities to provide patient care, educate, serve and share with our local communities and professional associations. The University offers all full-time employees the benefit of three (3) paid days for volunteer community service. In 2018, USAHS faculty and staff reported a total of 9,654 hours dedicated to community service.
Service Learning, Volunteer Service and Free Community Clinics
As part of the service-learning component at USAHS, students perform hundreds of hours of volunteer time every year while completing field work under the direct supervision of faculty at off-site locations and on-campus community clinics. USAHS has partnered with dozens of nonprofit organizations to provide service-learning opportunities for students, encompassing a wide range of community projects with organizations focused on special populations that include, but are not limited to:
- Children and adults with disabilities, mobility challenges or speech impairments
- Children and adults with traumatic brain or spinal cord injuries
- Wounded and disabled military veterans
- Senior citizens with mobility challenges due to disease or injury
- People in recovery from opioid addiction by offering drug-free pain management therapy
- Adults suffering from chronic disease such as Parkinson’s, ALS, rheumatoid arthritis,
- Adults who have suffered limited mobility from a stroke, aneurism or cerebral infection
- Youth and adult competitive athletes with disabilities through organizations such as the Special Olympics, U.S. Open Adaptive Surfing, Triumph Foundation, and the Challenged Athletes Foundation
In addition to service learning through fieldwork, USAHS offers free community clinics at each of its five campus locations. These clinics are operated by faculty members and provide students with additional learning opportunities by treating patients from the local community who do not have access to rehabilitative services due to financial constraints or the lack of health insurance. These free clinics provide community members with access to specialized care including physical therapy, occupational therapy, rehabilitative recovery therapy, and speech-language therapy.
The community clinics at USAHS provide advanced, specialized treatment that would be costly elsewhere. For example, in 2019 faculty members at the USAHS Austin campus launched the Pediatric Neuroplasticity Project, which provides ongoing, free therapy to children with severe mobility issues due to disease, such as cerebral palsy, or traumatic spinal cord injuries. The USAHS pediatric clinic is one of only two clinics in the country that can provide this highly specialized treatment.
USAHS has partnered with the National Council on Aging to provide free CarFit clinics at all of our campus locations. CarFit is an educational program that offers senior citizens the opportunity to check how well their personal vehicles “fit” them. At the CarFit events, faculty and students conduct these assessments with senior drivers in their cars and make recommendations on how to improve the safety of their vehicles. Over the past several years, USAHS has helped hundreds of seniors improve their driving safety through the program.
The University has also partnered with the National Council on Aging and the U.S. Administration for Community Living to host annual Fall Prevention Awareness events at each of the USAHS local campuses. This program seeks to raise awareness about how to prevent fall-related injuries among senior citizens by educating their family members about the impact of falls, fall prevention strategies in the home, and advocate for the expansion of evidenced-based fall prevention programs in the community. USAHS has participated in this program for the past decade, helping hundreds of senior citizens and their families with free clinics where faculty and students conduct health screenings and strength assessments for seniors. At these clinics, senior citizens receive personalized fall prevention strategies and recommendations for any additional physical or occupational therapy services to assist the patient in remaining independent and mobile.
Commitment to Environmental Sustainability
The University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences expresses our commitment to B Corp Certification through ongoing efforts to consistently reduce our environmental impact. USHAS offers employees and students incentives to utilize public transportation, carpools and ride shares, or commuting to campus by foot or bicycle. As we expand our local campus operations, USAHS is committed to making decisions with environmental impact as a major factor.
The University’s long-term facilities planning is focused on expanding the use of renewable energy. For example, the University is adding electric vehicle charging stations starting with the San Marcos, California campus and has introduced the use of solar power at that facility. As a result of our B Corp commitment, the University is now monitoring our energy and water use, setting benchmark goals for measurable reductions every year.
Highlights of Our B Corp Certification
Achieving and maintaining B Corp certification is a tremendous accomplishment. Every two years, USAHS undergoes a rigorous B Lab review that challenges organizations to evaluate and improve their impact on all stakeholders and categories reviewed in the B Corp assessment—students, employees, community, governance, and the environment.
Some highlights from our 2020 B Corp recertification:
- USAHS received high marks for governance by female leaders and people from under-represented populations.
- USAHS offers employees a generous benefits package, including three paid days off per year for faculty and staff to do community service. In 2018, university employees completed over 9,000 hours of volunteer community service.
- USAHS demonstrates strong completion rates and low student default rates, which reflect our dedication to student success.
- USAHS campuses have a direct local impact by creating opportunities for students to serve the community through volunteer field work; service-learning is a hallmark of the student experience.
- USAHS encourages our campus communities to use alternative transportation whenever possible. We support sustainable options by providing bike racks, carpooling incentives, and ride-share programs.
In addition to being B Corp Certified, the university also has earned regional and programmatic accreditation.