Education

What is the difference between a nurse practitioner and a doctor

Doctor vs. Nurse Practitioner

What is the difference between nurse practitioner and doctor? With the increasing shortage of practicing doctors in our country, nurse practitioners (NPs) have become an integral part of the healthcare system. Although the idea of choosing to become a nurse practitioner is enticing for a medical student between a doctor vs nurse practitioner, embarking on this particular career path requires one to know the difference between a nurse practitioner vs doctor.

According to the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, (AANP), the people from the world’s leading economy have become increasingly confident in choosing a nurse practitioner as their primary healthcare provider. The people also make more than 1.06 Billion visits to nurse practitioners every year.

Who is a Nurse Practitioner?

What is the difference between nurse practitioner and doctor? In doctor vs nurse practitioner, a nurse practitioner is one who specializes as a health care provider who provides patient care directly in clinical settings and has at least graduate-level training to diagnose medical problems. Nurse practitioners also help to develop patient care plans, perform certain advanced procedures, and prescribe the patient’s medications. For the nurse who is an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), nurse practitioners should have either a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). This helps them to be a certified nurse practitioner, and gain their title. Doctor of Nursing Practice is one out of two-terminal doctoral degrees in the field of nursing and the ones who have DNP have the highest level of training in nursing practice.

Nurse practitioners are equally skilled and knowledgeable in the medical field as doctors. They may not be as busy as doctors and thus can see patients sooner. This helps the patients avail of medication without a long delay or wait time.

A nurse practitioner can see different types of patients because their knowledge and experiences are such. They are even better suited to creating preventative care plans for their patients. Their job is to make their patients feel comfortable, healthy, and looked after through any sort of medical procedure or exam, be it part of their routine or otherwise.
A few nurse practitioners are even referred to as Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN) because of their extensive knowledge, background, and practice in taking care of patients – be it at the bedside, in a hospital, clinic, home, or the operating theatre.
They are an important addition to the healthcare team and act along with the primary care doctor of their patient. They even take care of the following medical needs of their patients:

  • Their annual check-ups and routine screenings
  • Their vaccinations
  • Diagnosing any seasonal illnesses
  • Providing treatment for a sore throat, an allergy, or flu

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is the nurse practitioners who are providing exceptional valuable services by taking the load off doctors, surgeons, and helping with emergency cases. They are helping to offer COVID-19 testing and diagnosis of the patient’s symptoms. A nurse practitioner can prescribe medicine, diagnose a disease, conduct cancer screenings, and recommend their patients to specialist doctors. Both nurse practitioner vs doctor perform similar tasks daily and work together in a clinical setting. Nurse practitioners not only work in the hospitals but also in a nonprofit organization, or a community organization.
While it isn’t yet licensed in our country, nurse practitioners in the States are allowed to conduct personal care to a patient under a licensed primary care doctor. The doctor can supervise the nurse practitioner, provide their expertise and involvement but conducting any medical tasks or exam is the same for both doctor and the NP.

Under nurse practitioner, there are eight main specializations categorized by population focus:

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner
  • Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner

What is the difference between nurse practitioner and doctor? A nurse practitioner’s duties vary based on their particular specialty. They may function the same way as doctors, such as going through all aspects of a patient’s healthcare, directing medical assistants to carry out their care plans. The responsibilities of a nurse practitioner typically include taking patient’s medical history, assessing them for any ongoing health status, diagnosing and developing a care strategy accordingly, coordinating care with other health professionals. Treating them for any acute, chronic, or behavioral conditions through procedures or medication as necessary, and educating them about preventative ways on how to best manage their ongoing illness/condition.

Who is a Doctor?

Link verified doctors are medical professionals or can even be referred to as clinical scientists that apply certain principles or procedures of medicine that can prevent, diagnose, care for and treat patients with illness, disease, and injury in order to maintain their physical and mental health. They can choose an area to specialize in and must complete their residency in that field. Doctors can choose to work at various premises, be it an office to see their patients, work in a clinic, or a hospital, where most doctors primarily work. The timings of their work vary accordingly, if they are self-employed or working in an office, then they would mostly work during the day, those who work at clinics or hospitals may work till evening, do overnight shifts and work during the weekends as well.

The job responsibilities of a doctor are:

  • Discussing the patient’s medical issues
  • Doing their examination
  • Speaking to the patients about reasons that could affect their health – eating habits, exercise, smoking, etc
  • Doing appropriate medical tests on patients and reviewing their results
  • Referring the patients to specialist doctors if required, for example, a gastroenterologist in case of Pancreatitis

MD stands for Doctor of Medicine who can diagnose and treat the patient for all kinds of ailments and write their prescriptions. A specialized doctor is referred to for a patient who needs specialized care for a particular body system or organ. For instance, a neurologist is a specialized physician who has a well-rounded education that overlaps with all specialties because they are a doctor of the brain, nervous system, peripheral nerves, and muscles. In case of a job search network for doctors, you can even check out Medpiper.com.

What is the Difference Between a Nurse Practitioner and a Doctor?

What is the difference between nurse practitioner and doctor? After completion of 5 and a half years of medical school, internship, and residency of a minimum of 3 years, it is a given that doctors have a long educational process in comparison to doctor vs nurse practitioner. For one to be a specialized doctor in the medical field, a 4-year doctoral program, and several years of medical practice means a more extensive background in a specialized medical practice. Doctors learn from a medical model instead of a nursing model, from which nursing practitioners learn. Also, doctors have a greater role to play in the care of the patient during preoperative care and postoperative care. The doctors are required to undergo a minimum of 11 years of medical training while a nurse practitioner only goes for 5-8 years of medical training. This means a doctor goes through a period of 15,000-16,000 clinical hours while a nurse practitioner only goes through 1500 clinical hours. Between nurse practitioner vs doctor, the nurse practitioners play the role of acting as the bridge between the patients and their care providers, or between two or more medical professionals part of the patient’s team. They fill the gap between a registered nurse and a doctor and also act as a medium between the doctor and their patient. This way the patient can better understand a medical process, their diagnosis, or their care plan.

Working in Collaboration
With the increasing complexities of medicine, it’s crucial to implement the expertise and work on the advice of the entire healthcare team, over one individual. Medical professionals should know that nurse practitioners and doctors work in collaboration in hospital settings to provide the patient with a holistic care plan. They aid by providing different pieces of the puzzle to complete the whole set which is modern medicine.
There are certain situations where a nurse practitioner will be present for the patient’s initial visit. The nurse practitioner will take the time to discuss the patient’s symptoms and their health care concerns. They will take down their medical history before considering potential treatments that the patient is comfortable with. This piece of information will then be presented to a supervising doctor and together, both the experts will come up with the best possible plan to cure the patient of their health issues.

Experience Can Count
In some cases, it is important to know that a nurse practitioner who has worked for more years in the medical field might be better equipped to handle a patient’s particular condition better than a doctor who has completed their residency recently. Although both doctors and nurse practitioners come from different backgrounds, the training, patient experiences of a nurse practitioner can make them possibly the right person to handle the patient’s particular health situation. So, in cases of diagnosis that serve to be tricky, it is better to consult both the nurse practitioner and the doctor for the benefit of the patient.

Nurse Practitioner VS Doctor – Similarities and Differences

The similarity between nurse practitioner and doctor:

  • For nurse practitioner vs doctor, both medical practices focus on the care for their patients, starting from the treatment to providing preventative care for their illness.
  • Both the medical professions include similar day-to-day responsibilities, such as examining patients, taking their medical histories, performing tests, prescribing medications, and referring to specialized doctors.
  • A large portion of both nurse practitioner vs doctor work in primary care, providing general care, and acting as the patient’s initial communication point within the care system.


The difference between nurse practitioner and doctor:

  • Educational requirements for a doctor are far greater than a nurse practitioner. They must first complete five and a half years of undergraduate education (MBBS) concluded with a year of internship, followed by four years of medical school (MD/DO) and 3-7 years of residency, depending on the doctor’s choice of specialization. In the case of nurse practitioners, they only have to complete four years of undergraduate study, followed by medical work for several years, and complete 2-4 years of additional education for the DNP degrees.
  • Even though doctors have higher salary figures, they complete their graduation from medical school with bigger debts. During their residency period, they earn much smaller salaries and spend extra years in school not earning any money. Because nurse practitioners enter the workplace earlier than doctors, they earn sufficient salaries, and with increased years of experience, they can expect their salaries to increase further.
  • Because in India, nurse practitioners aren’t yet licensed to practice on their own, they are still required to work under the supervision of a practicing doctor.

Difference Between Nurse Practitioner and Doctor – The Need for NPs in Rural India

Doctor vs nurse practitioner: In India, nurses are the most needed health care providers. Although, there is a shortage for both doctors and nurse practitioners. According to the government, India has 2 nurses and 1 doctor for every 1,457 people, which is an even lower ratio than WHO’s recommended 1:1,000. This, along with the fact that there is a globally typical concentration in urban areas of the country, leading to limited healthcare access in rural cities (WHO, 2016). This results in an increase in all diseases in the rural population, making it almost double when compared to those from urban settings. It is a given that rural people don’t have access to a necessary healthcare system, since it serves better the ones who are well off. Around 75% of medical manpower, health infrastructure, and other health-related resources are found intensively in urban areas where only 27% of the population of our country resides. They get to avail of health services that are at par with international standards, while the bottom level healthcare facilities are intangible to the majority of the population living in the rural or tribal areas. With the limited services that are provided are of inferior quality by untrained professionals.

The role of a nurse practitioner in our country has still not been formally recognized to date and neither are any national statistics available. There are some initiatives suggested by the Indian Nursing Council (INC) which are still underway that are to implement educational programs for a formal nurse practitioner role. Any previous efforts that were made to develop an independent nurse practitioner role were cut back on because of the limitations on finances and infrastructure. There have been constant endeavors to provide education that will enable nurses to practice in advanced roles at a few private institutions, while it isn’t widely popular. A few of the following things should be considered before a nurse practitioner program in India is implemented:

  1. Needs-assessment: Preliminary needs-assessment of programs should be done which should focus on physician scarcity in rural regions, availability of chronic diseases, increase in life expectancy, and lack of care provided by doctors. So the holistic care that is lacking will be delivered by the nurse practitioner.
  2. Structured curriculum: Nurse practitioner’s curriculum should be at par with international standards. Initiation should be made on specialties such as geriatrics, adult care, maternal care, medical, pediatric care, and surgical care.
  3. Accreditation: A new body should be formed under the Indian Nursing Council (INC), which should include specialists. It could include nurse practitioners from outside the country, nursing experts, and a nursing faculty from national institutes. The separate body can also give accreditation.
  4. Implementing certain responsibilities: For nurse practitioners, the focus should be given on assessing and identifying symptoms for a patient. Proper collection of patient history should be made, they should get a prescription for a specific diagnosis. To go through this, more and more practical sessions must be arranged in the presence of experts.
  5. Certification and licensing: A periodic evaluation should be done by arranging practical sessions and structured exams. Licensure should be renewed from time and time through a credit system.

Content for MD:

Know the difference between nurse practitioners and doctors. The difference in education, licensing, timeline, & similarities between doctor vs nurse practitioner.

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