The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts that far more nurse practitioners will be needed to care for an aging baby boom generation and to replace nurses who leave the profession due to retirement or burnout.
In fact, the BLS projects 52% job growth for nurse practitioners between 2020 and 2030, a figure significantly higher than the 8% growth projected for all professions. This opportunity makes becoming a nurse practitioner more appealing than ever.
Nurse practitioners are highly skilled and can possess years of on-the-job experience, and they can provide a high level of care that can potentially improve patient outcomes. It may appear that the duties they perform are similar to those of a doctor, but they don’t quite align. For potential students seeking to advance their careers by earning a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), understanding the distinctions between nurse practitioner versus doctor roles is crucial.
What Does a Nurse Practitioner Do?
Also known as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), nurse practitioners record patient symptoms, conduct physical exams and diagnostic tests, diagnose health issues, and analyze test results.
Nurse practitioners can also work with patients to build effective health and wellness strategies. In some cases, they can conduct medical research. They can provide general care, or they can funnel their practice toward a specific demographic or concept, such as adult gerontology acute care.
Nurse practitioners are essential to clinics and hospitals. Often serving as anchors for the patients in their care and guiding lights for their peers, they can be magnificent leaders, fluent in empathy and bedside care. The nurse is often the first to tend to a patient’s concerns and assists in executing treatment.
What Does a Doctor Do?
Doctors diagnose and treat patient illnesses and injuries through examinations, diagnostic tests, medical history analysis and medication prescription. They also address a patient’s health maintenance through topics such as preventive care, hygiene and diet, and they can design and implement patient-specific treatment plans. Additionally, they can address a wide number of health concerns a patient may have.
Doctors can focus on a specific type of practice. This focus can be built around a subspecialty of patient health. For example, cardiologists focus on conditions relating to the heart and blood vessels, while dermatologists treat diseases relating to the skin, hair and nails.
Whether a person aspires to be a nurse practitioner or a doctor, the quintessential mission of all who work in health care is the same: to deliver the best care to all patients.
Similarities Between Nurse Practitioners and Doctors
Nurse practitioners and doctors share many skills and responsibilities, often specialize in a specific aspect of health care delivery and require licensure to operate in the field. They also share a remarkable work ethic and desire to create the greatest outcome for everyone in their care.
Licensure of Nurse Practitioners and Doctors
- Both careers require the completion of an advanced degree and professional licensure.
- The exact criteria for licensure may change depending on where they live and work.
Specializations for Nurse Practitioners and Doctors
- Nurses and doctors can specialize as they wish, with their preferred patient demographic or field of study informing each area of expertise.
- Some specializations are adult and geriatric health, psychiatric and mental health, and pediatric health.
Skills Shared by Nurse Practitioners and Doctors
- To best assist patients, nurses and doctors must cultivate similar skills and competencies.
- Nurses and doctors must have quick problem-solving skills, empathic communication skills, detail-oriented organizational skills and leadership skills.
Difference Between Nurse Practitioners and Doctors
Students and professionals alike should know the key distinctions between a nurse practitioner versus doctor. Understanding how the two careers coexist is key to planning long-term goals and time commitments.
Many duties can overlap, but a nurse practitioner’s role differs from a doctor’s in flexibility and scope. A nurse practitioner, for example, can often be available to patients who need immediate care sooner than from a doctor, allowing nurse practitioners to serve as a frontline of defense in helping patients.
Additionally, nurse practitioners and doctors differ in the extent of education they need to advance. Nurse practitioners who choose to pursue further education can earn a specialization that can deepen their knowledge and make them candidates for advancement.
Nurse practitioners can pursue educational goals while still working because a nurse practitioner’s educational requirements aren’t as extensive, overall, as a doctor’s. All else being equal, this may allow them to advance to a higher level quickly.
Consider some key differences in nurse practitioner versus doctor roles.
Nurse Practitioners Have More Availability Than Doctors
- Patients seeking immediate attention can benefit from the availability of nurse practitioners to fulfill their health needs.
Nurse Differing Educational Demand
- A nurse practitioner can expect to spend fewer years in postsecondary education earning a DNP than a doctor can expect to spend in advanced studies. However, while shorter than a doctor’s, a nurse practitioner’s advanced education is no less important to the field and is designed to open doors for nurse practitioners interested in advancing their careers.
- Most doctor roles have greater ongoing educational requirements than nurse practitioner roles. This lets nurse practitioners spend less time in lectures and more time in their clinics or facilities helping others.
Nurse Practitioners Prescribe with Differing Levels of Oversight
Like doctors, nurse practitioners have the authority to prescribe medication in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
- Unlike doctors, many states limit a nurse practitioner’s ability to prescribe to the full extent of their education and training (their full practice authority).
- Limitations to a nurse practitioner’s full practice authority include doctor supervision and collaboration requirements.
- As of 2022, according to the National Nurse-Led Care Consortium (NNCC), 25 states allow nurse practitioners to prescribe to the full extent of their practice authority, including Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Maine, New York, and Oregon. Washington, D.C., also allows it.
- As of 2022, according to the NNCC, 25 states impose restrictions on the ability of nurse practitioners to prescribe to the full extent of their practice authority. These states include California, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas.
- Key distinctions between nurse practitioners and doctors regarding prescription authority:
- Like nurse practitioners, doctors are subject to certain requirements on the way they prescribe drugs, such as electronically prescribing controlled substances or quantity limits imposed by pharmacies or insurance companies.
- Unlike nurse practitioners, however, doctors have full authority to prescribe as they see fit, within certain state-by-state restrictions.
Nurse Practitioners Pursue Different Career Paths
- Active nurse practitioners who seek postsecondary study under a DNP degree can develop opportunities for career advancement.
- Some nursing career paths involve nurse practitioner specializations. These pathways include family medicine, adult gerontology acute care and psychiatric mental health. DNP-prepared nurse practitioners can also hold leadership roles, such as clinical educator and chief nursing officer. These draw on an acute understanding of recent trends in evidence-based practice, nursing informatics and project analysis.
- Doctor specializations include anesthesiology, dermatology, cardiology and general internist treatment for nonsurgical approaches to treating internal organs.
What to Expect as a Nurse Practitioner in the Future
With opportunities expected to grow in the next decade, many nurse practitioners are developing their skills and education, gaining the edge they need to advance in this important career. As patient numbers rise and current nurses retire or leave the profession, the need for nurse practitioners becomes more pressing. By earning a degree that takes the future into account, you can develop the skills needed to advance your career and meet the upcoming demand for nurse practitioners.
Duquesne University recognizes and responds to the investment of time and talent that nurse practitioners make to further their work in health care. To develop and expand your expertise in nursing practice and patient care through any of Duquesne’s array of targeted nursing programs, take the next step and learn more.
Earning Duquesne’s online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degreehelps nurse practitioners become more independent in their nursing careers. Nurses who pursue an MSN degree become changemakers, advocating for patients in today’s health care systems through increased expertise in a variety of nursing care and practice areas. The MSN program offers Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, and Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner tracks, among others.
Duquesne’s online post-master’s certificates allow nurses to build on their education and experience to gain a competitive edge in the field, expand their current roles, or transition to a new specialization. Nurses can earn a post-master’s certificate specializing in family medicine, adult-gerontology acute care, psychiatric-mental health, and more.
Finally, nurse practitioners with plans to earn a doctorate in nursing can learn how Duquesne’s online DNP degree can take their future career to the next level, offering tracks to advance their clinical leadership and prepare them to address systemic issues in health care.
Find out how Duquesne can help you advance your nurse practitioner skill set and improve the quality of life of every patient who comes under your care.
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A Doctor of Medicine (MD) goes to medical school, but a nurse practitioner does not. The amount of time they spend in training also differs between the two roles. It takes about 11 years (or more) to become a physician. Training to become a nurse practitioner usually takes 6 to 8 years.What is the difference between nurse practitioner and doctor schooling? ›
A Doctor of Medicine (MD) goes to medical school, but a nurse practitioner does not. The amount of time they spend in training also differs between the two roles. It takes about 11 years (or more) to become a physician. Training to become a nurse practitioner usually takes 6 to 8 years.Is nurse practitioner school harder than med school? ›
MD is definitely harder by far. It's harder to get in because the role is more demanding and the government has more regulations around training to ensure quality, while there are online NP degree mills. NPs are great for their mid level care, but there's a reason people who can't get into MD programs settle for NP.Why am I seeing a nurse practitioner and not a doctor? ›
Many patients prefer to visit a nurse practitioner rather than a doctor as they often find the interactions to be overall more friendly, the wait times when scheduling an appointment to be far shorter and the prices to often be far more affordable.What is 1 main difference between an RN and an NP? ›
Although both registered nurses and nurse practitioners focus on patient observation and care, the largest difference between the two roles is that NPs are permitted to prescribe treatments, order tests, and diagnose patients—duties normally performed by physicians—whereas RNs are not.Is a nurse practitioner basically a doctor? ›
While doctors and nurse practitioners have many similarities, there are some notable differences. The biggest difference between the two is the amount of time spent on training. While NPs have more training than a registered nurse, they receive less training than a doctor. They also are licensed differently.What can doctors do that nurse practitioners Cannot? ›
A primary difference between physicians and NPs is the fact that all doctors can prescribe medication to patients as a part of their duties. Nurse practitioners also prescribe medicine, but in some states they must be directly overseen by a doctor or physician in order to do so.How long does it take to go from nurse practitioner to doctor? ›
Being a nurse practitioner does not mean you can take short cuts on your road to being a doctor. After you become a nurse practitioner you will still need to go to four years of medical school and 4 years of residency if you want to be a doctor.Can an NP transition to an MD? ›
Can you go from NP to MD? An NP could become an MD by applying to medical school and going through all the requirements.Is NP the highest level of nursing? ›
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
A DNP degree is the highest level of education in the nursing field and prepares nurses for leadership roles in their health care organizations.
Researchers at Stanford University found that care by NPs increases lengths of stay in hospitals by 11% and accounts for 20% more preventable hospitalizations compared to emergency department doctors.Are nurse practitioners happier than doctors? ›
"Their importance and prestige is rising as more hospitals, health systems, and accountable care organizations... move to team-based care, in which they play a big part," Hoogerwerf says. As a result, NPs "are far happier" than physicians, Megan Brooks writes for Medscape Medical News.Is nurse practitioner less stressful than RN? ›
More time with patients.
Despite these positives when compared to working as an RN, the NP role can be very challenging and more demanding. Their duties may be more stressful compared to RNs because nurse practitioners often manage complicated patient cases and are responsible for making higher-level decisions.
Is NP higher than PA? Neither profession ranks "higher" than the other. Both NPs and PAs work in the healthcare field but with different qualifications, educational backgrounds, and responsibilities. They also work in different specialties.Is Masters of nursing the same as NP? ›
In all states, you will need to earn at least a master's degree in nursing in order to become an NP. Some states, however, have begun to require nurse practitioners to hold a DNP in order to practice. Additionally, some employers may require that NPs hold a DNP even if the state only requires a master's degree.Is NP harder than BSN? ›
Courses and content are more challenging. The level of knowledge you're required to have as a Nurse Practitioner is a huge step up from a RN. You'll take a lot of the same courses as you did with your BSN, but will go into each topic with a lot more depth because you'll be diagnosing and treating health problems soon.Do doctors have authority over nurses? ›
Their authority in healthcare contexts is also typically less than that of physicians. The physician bears primary legal responsibility for the patient. It is the physician who makes the key decisions about patient medical diagnosis and treatment and issues orders that nurses are expected to follow.Can a nurse practitioner diagnose anxiety? ›
Your family nurse practitioner can be a good place to start if you believe that you suffer from depression or anxiety. However, only psychiatrists and psychiatric nurse practitioners are able to provide diagnosis, treatment, and monitoring for more complex psychiatric disorders.Can nurse practitioners diagnose ADHD? ›
Many healthcare professionals can diagnose ADHD: psychiatrists, pediatricians, neurologists, psychologists, clinical social workers, nurse practitioners, and licensed counselors or therapists.How do you address a nurse practitioner? ›
Without giving it much thought, patients simply say, “Doctor” or “Doctor Jones.” When an NP is the health professional on call, however, what to say isn't always clear. Since NPs are diagnosticians, treatment providers, and caregivers, it may seem more respectful to add a sense of formality when addressing them.
NPs are not surgeons. They can do minor procedures such as lance boils and suture lacerations, but nurse practitioners are not allowed to perform major surgery alone.What are the limitations of a nurse practitioner? ›
- LIMITATION #1: Physician resistance. ...
- LIMITATION #2: Patient hesitation. ...
- LIMITATION #3: Staff disrespect. ...
- LIMITATION #4: Pharmacology restraints. ...
- LIMITATION #5: Employer disrespect. ...
- LIMITATION #6: Public ignorance. ...
- LIMITATION #7: Physician oversight.
Nurse Practitioner Education
The 4-year degree must be in nursing at a minimum. After earning your BSN, you'll need to complete a master's degree program that trains nurse practitioners. These are called Nurse Practitioner (NP) degrees. NP degrees can take 2 to 4 years.
- Emotional work. ...
- Varying hours. ...
- Working with people. ...
- Power imbalance and hierarchy. ...
- Not being able to help everyone. ...
- Restrictive practice settings. ...
- Being challenged too little or not enough. ...
- Charting, charting, and more charting.
Although salaries vary based on the year of residency and your specialty, medical residents are paid for their work. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), there were over 144,000 active medical residents as of 2021, and the average salary for medical residents was $64,200.Why choose MD over NP? ›
MD school includes more rigorous upper-division science coursework. you're seeking a faster way to advanced practice. If better work-life balance is important to you, a NP has more flexibility and more options for accelerated training than a MD. you want to practice more autonomously.Do patients prefer MD or NP? ›
75% prefer to be treated by a physician. 75% said they prefer to be treated by a physician—even if it takes longer to get an appointment and costs more.Why do patients prefer NP over MD? ›
In general, the findings indicated that NPs spend more time with patients, listen more closely, provide more feedback, show more respect for patients' opinions, and the like. Note: Researchers point out that physicians scored well on the survey--an average global score of 7.2 out of 10.What is the highest degree in nursing? ›
Level 5 - Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN)
Nurses who complete either their Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) are ready to become advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). As an APRN, you must be willing to take on more leadership roles in patient care.
- Certified nursing assistant (CNA) Position description: Although a CNA is not an actual nurse, they're the main line of communication between the patients and the nurses. ...
- Licensed practical nurse (LPN) ...
- Registered nurse (RN)
Madara, MD, noted multiple studies finding that one type of APRN—nurse practitioners (NPs)—order more diagnostic imaging than do doctors.What type of nurse practitioner makes the most money? ›
As a hospitalist NP, you can expect to have one of the highest-paying nurse practitioner jobs. The average yearly wage is about $117,880. And while hourly rates vary based on region and specific hospitals, it is $56.67 on average.What are the pros and cons of a nurse practitioner vs doctor? ›
A nurse practitioner has the advantage of more time with patients, and is also able to provide a different level of care. Doctors are focused on diagnostics and specific types of treatment, whereas nurses spend more time delving into prevention and a wider range of holistic and wellness based treatments and therapies.Are nurse practitioners intelligent? ›
While nurse practitioners are intelligent, capable, and contribute greatly to the healthcare system, they are not physicians and do not receive the same level of training.Do people trust nurses or doctors more? ›
Twenty-nine percent of those people ranked nurses' honesty and ethics as very high, 12 percentage points more than the second highest-ranked profession — medical doctors. Medical doctors and pharmacists ranked second and third, which shows that people trust their healthcare professionals the most.Why is nurse practitioner so popular? ›
Being skilled mental health providers is one of the reasons nurse practitioners are in high demand. Even if you are not a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, with the right training you can still diagnose and treat patients with mental health conditions.What is the hardest type of nurse to be? ›
- Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurses. ICU is an extremely high-pressure environment and these nurses work with patients who have significant injuries and disease with added morbidity risks. ...
- Emergency Department nurses. ...
- Neonatal ICU. ...
- OR nursing. ...
- Oncology Nursing. ...
- Psychiatric Nursing.
- Nurse Educator. This is one of the least stressful nursing jobs available. ...
- School Nurse/Summer Camp Nurse. If you love children, this might be the perfect opportunity for you. ...
- Nurse Administrator. ...
- Public Health Nurse. ...
- Nurse Researcher. ...
- Nurse Informaticist. ...
- Case Management Nurse. ...
- Home Health Nurse.
An LPN or LVN program usually takes around a year to complete, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). What makes an LPN or LVN preparation program the easiest type of nursing education you can pursue is its focus on training for basic nursing services only and its quick completion time.Is PA school harder than nursing school? ›
Yes, in general, physician assistant school is harder than nursing school.
NP school is the least competitive of the three and it has the loosest requirements. Some programs require 1 to 2 years of prior nursing experience, while others don't require any. GPA isn't highlighted as a primary factor, with most GPA cutoffs around 3.0, but this isn't a hard rule.Can a PA later become a Doctor? ›
Some providers, however, are interested in advancing from their current role as a physician assistant (PA) to a Doctor of Medicine (MD). To transition from PA to MD, you'll need to apply to medical schools, attend an MD program, and complete residency training.What is a nurse with a masters called? ›
Nurse Practitioner (NP)
A nurse practitioner is an advanced practice registered nurse who is educated at the master's level or higher, and represents a step up in responsibilities and autonomy compared to registered nurses.
One of the most common reasons nursing professionals obtain a DNP degree is to increase their knowledge and move up to executive roles. APRNs in leadership roles have more power to decide how healthcare institutions operate. Nurse leaders and nurse managers must have proficiency in: Communication.Is DNP a master's degree? ›
A DNP is a doctorate degree in nursing and it is the highest level of education in the nursing field.What is the easiest type of nurse practitioner? ›
- Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner. ...
- Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. ...
- Family Nurse Practitioner. ...
- Occupational Health Nurse Practitioners (OHNP) ...
- Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner.
Do DNPs make more money than NPs? DNP salaries are generally higher than NP salaries, reflecting their additional training. However, nurse anesthetists, even those with MSNs, often earn more than family practice DNPs. Individual salaries depend on specialty, location, experience, and many other factors.Is the nurse practitioner exam hard? ›
Are Nurse Practitioner Exams Difficult? Yes. Both of the examinations to become a Certified Nurse Practitioner (NP) are very challenging.Is a nurse practitioner as good as an MD? ›
In the end, a qualified nurse practitioner will give accurate diagnoses, just like physicians. They will provide safe and effective treatment, just like physicians. Their training as nurses also teaches them a great bedside manner that patients love.Is doctorate in nursing higher than nurse practitioner? ›
Which is higher, NP or DNP? One is not higher than the other, as it's comparing an educational degree to a certification. An NP is a master's- or doctorate-prepared nurse that is certified and licensed as an advanced practice registered nurse. A DNP is a higher-education degree.
Is NP higher than PA? Neither profession ranks "higher" than the other. Both NPs and PAs work in the healthcare field but with different qualifications, educational backgrounds, and responsibilities. They also work in different specialties.Are doctors being replaced by nurse practitioners? ›
While diagnosing and treating patients was once doctors' domain, they are increasingly being replaced by nurse practitioners and physician assistants, collectively known as "midlevel practitioners," who can perform many of the same duties and generate much of the same revenue for less than half the pay.Why is a nurse practitioner better than a doctor? ›
Many duties can overlap, but a nurse practitioner's role differs from a doctor's in flexibility and scope. A nurse practitioner, for example, can often be available to patients who need immediate care sooner than from a doctor, allowing nurse practitioners to serve as a frontline of defense in helping patients.What is the highest degree for nurse practitioner? ›
A DNP is the highest level of education certification available to nurses, and its curriculum centers on various healthcare research methods, data analysis, and evidence-based nursing practice—making it ideal for NPs who want to hold leadership or senior-level positions, educate other nurses, perform advanced patient ...What is a nurse with a PhD called? ›
Introduction. Advanced Nurse Practitioners (ANPs) provide at least a portion of the clinical care received by some Missouri residents. A subset of these ANPs have earned a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. Patients generally value the care they receive from their ANP clinicians, be they a DNP, or not.Can a PhD nurse write prescriptions? ›
Yes, nurse practitioners can prescribe medications in all 50 states. This includes the power to prescribe antibiotics, narcotics, and other schedule II drugs such as Adderall. However, whether this task requires physicians supervision depends on the practice authority of each state.How many years is a doctorate degree in nursing? ›
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), DNP programs typically contain three to five years of full-time study.Who is more qualified a PA or RN? ›
PA: As physician assistants perform many of the same duties as doctors, they are required to obtain more education and training than compared to most RNs. Additionally, most PA programs require many hours of healthcare experience to be admitted.What does FNP C stand for? ›
What does FNP-C mean? The designation FNP-C means certified family nurse practitioner. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners Certification Board (AANPCB) offers this credential.Do patients prefer nurse practitioners or physicians? ›
75% prefer to be treated by a physician.
According to Medscape's "Nurse Practitioner Burnout & Depression Report 2022," almost a third of NPs are considering leaving health care, particularly as more of them struggle with burnout and other work difficulties.