The number of careers in the medical field is countless. So, it is understandable if people get confused between these jobs. One such confusion exists between a Nurse Practitioner and a Doctor. A common man would say that obviously, one is a nurse and one is a doctor. But the real difference is a much more detailed answer than that. Then what is the difference between a Nurse Practitioner and a Doctor?
Nurse Practitioners can deliver health care comparable to that of a doctor. However, there are several restrictions imposed on the duties of an NP when compared to that of a doctor. An NP can prescribe some medicines that a patient needs to take, order tests and interpret them, and in general, deliver health care. The can also assist in surgeries without performing them independently. Other than that, they are also allowed to handle a few high risk or complicated cases and consult the patient regarding any health-related doubts. An NP can also deliver babies. Usually, nurse practitioners aren’t allowed to practice medicine independently, but some states in America do give them this freedom.
A doctor, on the other hand, can virtually do anything and everything in the health care world. They are allowed to practice medicine and perform surgery independently, prescribe medicines, consult patients, write prescriptions for controlled substances (which usually NPs aren’t allowed to do) and deliver babies. In short, they can do whatever an NP can do, but they are awarded higher authority and autonomy.
To be a nurse practitioner one needs a bachelor’s degree in Nursing and needs to accumulate some clinical hours for the experience. They spend about 500 hours in a classroom and about the same in a clinic (possibly more sometimes). It takes about 6-8 years to become a licensed NP with Master’s degree. However, there are hints that soon a Doctorate may be required too. To become an NP one doesn’t need to spend any time on a residency, however, you can choose to do so to gain more experience and credibility.
A doctor, on the other hand, needs a bachelor’s degree and has to spend way more time in the classroom and the clinic (about 2 years in each). They also have to undergo about 3-8 years of residency before they can start practicing on their own. The main difference in education is that a doctor possesses a doctorate, whereas an NP has a master’s degree.
When it comes to the salaries of these two, the value of the extra education is truly shown. A nurse practitioner earns an average salary of about $97000 whereas a doctor earns nearly twice as much – $185000 as an average salary. This obviously varies state to state and upon the experience you have. There is, of course, a scope of improvement here as there is in any other medical field. Choosing to specialize in any field as a doctor or an NP, you can try and earn more.
With any luck, this cleared the doubts that you had about both these professions. At the end of the day it all boils down to the amount of autonomy you would like while you work and if you are willing to put in those extra years of schooling to get that job. Other than that, both are equally respectable jobs, and the pay is quite decent as an NP.
Choosing a career is a very important life decision. So, you have to have all the facts about them before you pick. Go ahead and start thinking now. Either way, you will be making the world a better place – one patient at a time.