The range of practice for certain healthcare professionals might be very unclear. You might be one of those people asking, “Is a nurse practitioner a doctor?” The quick response is no.

Both medical doctors (MDs) and nurse practitioners (NPs) spend their days improving people’s lives. Both types of providers are committed to using the most cutting-edge medical research and acute care methods to treat patients’ diseases and injuries.

The primary distinction between a nurse practitioner and a doctor is that NPs receive less training than MDs, which affects the nature of their duties.

To assist you in deciding which profession could be best for you, this blog post compares and contrasts the schooling requirements and employment duties of a nurse practitioner versus a doctor.

Key Differences Between a Nurse Practitioner and a Doctor

Differences in Responsibilities

Many of the duties carried out by medical doctors and nurse practitioners are similar. NPs are allowed to evaluate patients, order and interpret diagnostic tests, develop and supervise treatment regimens, and prescribe drugs without a doctor’s supervision in 22 states in the US, including Washington, D.C.

The practice of nurse practitioners is limited or prohibited in the other states, and as a result, some patient care choices require the approval of a physician.

Educational Differences

It takes years of grueling study to become a nurse practitioner, and even longer to become a primary care physician.

Nevertheless, both career options are incredibly fulfilling, and whether you choose to attend medical school or nursing school, you will be helping to enhance the lives of others.

The ability to continue working while pursuing a nursing practitioner degree is one benefit of becoming a nurse practitioner.

Given the greater flexibility that online learning programs provide, it is especially possible to maintain employment while pursuing a doctorate or master’s degree in nursing.

You must fulfill the following prerequisites in order to become a nurse practitioner:

1. Earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): The route you follow to earn a BSN will depend on your prior education, but a full-time BSN program normally lasts four years.

2. Pass the NCLEX-RN examination: You must pass the NCLEX-RN exam in order to obtain your nursing license, which is necessary in order to work as a registered nurse (RN).

Prior to applying to graduate school, it is advised that you earn two or more years of worthwhile job experience after receiving your license; however, program requirements differ.

3. Earn a graduate degree in nursing: Choose a nurse practitioner role specialty, such as adult nurse practitioner (ANP), family nurse practitioner (FNP), or another.

After completing your didactic curriculum, you must complete a practicum in which you spend several hundred clock hours working closely with a preceptor in a clinical setting.

A graduate degree (including the practicum) normally requires two to three years to finish, depending on the school you pick.

4. Become a Certified Nurse Practitioner (CNP): In order to obtain a license as a nurse practitioner, you will need to demonstrate that you have passed a national certification exam administered by one of the five national certification boards.

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Compared to nurse practitioners, doctors spend more time in school: they enroll in and graduate from a four-year medical school followed by a recognized residency training program.

Depending on the specialty, the residency’s duration varies. The steps to becoming a doctor of medicine are as follows:

1. Acquire a bachelor’s degree: Any discipline is acceptable for your bachelor’s degree, but medical schools do have a number of demanding prerequisite courses.

2. Take the Medical College Admission Test: You must pass this standardized test before submitting an application to medical school.

3. Earn a Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree: Medical students take study and clinical rotations during this normally four-year curriculum to get ready for the internship and residency.

4. Pass the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination: You must pass this three-part exam before submitting an application for a medical license.

5. Complete residency training: Residents train for three to seven years under the guidance of attending physicians, working with other healthcare professionals.

6. Obtain a state license: Physicians must obtain a license in their state in order to practice.

Work Environment Differences

Typically, doctors work in hospitals, group practices, clinics, and private offices. 7 Doctors are employed by the government and in academia.

The majority of nurse practitioners work in doctors’ offices. A third of them are employed by public, private, and community hospitals. NPs also work at educational institutions, clinics run by other healthcare professionals, and outpatient care facilities.

Different Philosophical Focuses

At their core, physicians are scientists. They investigate ailments and treatments for them. At their core, nurse practitioners are healers.

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The vast majority of nurses start out in the field as registered nurses (RNs), and they emphasize total body and total mind wellness in their patient care.

There is a lot of overlap, so it’s not accurate to say that doctors never use scientifically proven treatments or that nurse practitioners don’t use them, but their fundamental philosophies regarding patient care are different.

Specialization Differences

Doctors and nurse practitioners both have the option to specialize or even subspecialize in a certain field. The specialties for nurses typically differ slightly from those for doctors.

A doctor would concentrate on obstetrics and gynecology as an OB-GYN, whereas a nurse practitioner would specialize in women’s reproductive health and childbirth as a women’s health nurse practitioner (WHNP) or as a family nurse practitioner (FNP)6.

Common Specialties of Nurse Practitioners

  • Nurse anesthetist
  • Clinical nurse specialist
  • Psychiatric nurse practitioner
  • Orthopedic nurse practitioner
  • Pediatric nurse practitioner
  • Family nurse practitioner

Common Doctor Specialties

  • Surgery
  • Internal medicine
  • Psychiatry
  • Physical medicine and rehab
  • Pediatrics
  • Family Physician

Conclusion on the topic: Is a Nurse Practitioner a Doctor?

If you have recently visited a doctor’s office, it is conceivable that you did not see a doctor. In recent years, the American medical system has increasingly relied on nurse practitioners to meet the expanding demand for healthcare.

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In fact, the employment of nurse practitioners is projected to increase by 52% in the next years, which is significantly faster than normal growth.

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