Nurse Practitioner vs Doctor – Difference and Comparison

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

A nurse practitioner or NP in short is an advanced practice registered nurse and a type of mid-level practitioner. Nurse practitioners are healers. Their duties include order and interpreting diagnostic and laboratory tests, diagnosing diseases, and assessing patient needs. A nurse practitioner works directly with patients. They provide primary and specialty care to people.

Nurse Practitioner receives relatively shorter training. Their training covers basic disease prevention, health promotion, and coordination of care. They don’t concern with more complex conditions.

Nurse practitioners have certain differences from registered nurses. Unlike registered nurses, they can prescribe medication to a certain extent. This has to be supervised by a medical doctor. Nurse practitioners overlook a patient’s well-being and monitor his needs.

Nurse practitioners assist doctors in surgery, but can’t operate by themselves. Another duty of nurse practitioners is to diagnose patients and examine medical records.

As nurse practitioners work directly with the patients, they also provide huge mental support to the patients. They provide emergency medication and treatment.

What is a Doctor?

A doctor, also known as a physician, medical practitioner, or medical doctor is a licensed individual who practices medicine and is concerned with patients’ health.

Doctors provide medical treatment for both simple and complex problems. They diagnose and treat patient illnesses and injuries through diagnostic tests, medical history analysis, and prescribing medication.

One has to complete medical school and residency and receive training to be a doctor. They receive additional training in a specialized field.

Most of the doctors are specialized in a certain field of the medical sector. For example, a Cardiologist focus on heart and blood vessels related problems, and an Ophthalmologist focus on eye-related problems.

Doctors examine and diagnose patients to determine illness or injury. Then they analyze patients’ medical history. And prescribe medication to treat the patient. When needed, doctors can perform surgery.

Doctors try to understand diseases, and how to cure them. Doctors always try to find out new ways how to cure a patient in a more effective way.

Difference Between Nurse Practitioner and Doctor

There is a huge difference between the education and training that a nurse practitioner and a doctor receives. Nurse practitioners receive shorter and simpler training that focuses on providing general care. They complete post-graduate and receive training in nursing.

This training includes applying for medicines and conducting tests using medical instruments and machines.

Doctors receive relatively more intense and detailed education and training specializing in medicine and detecting problems. A nurse practitioner needs to be under the supervision of a doctor to prescribe medication.
A doctor prescribes medication as a part of their duty. But a nurse practitioner can prescribe simple medication under the supervision of a doctor.

Nurse practitioners are patient-centric. Most of their duties are related directly to the patient. Doctors are more concerned with diseases and more like scientists. They spend more time understanding and curing disease than patient care.

Comparison Between Nurse Practitioner and Doctor

Parameters of ComparisonNurse PractitionerDoctor
DutyHelping doctors and supervising patients and giving primary careProviding treatment for complex problems, diagnosis, and specialty care.
Education and TrainingShorter education and training period. Around 6-7 years.Longer and more intensive education and training periods. Generally 10-15 years.
Prescribing medicationSimple medicines under the supervision of a medical doctor.Prescribe medicine as a part of their duty.
SalaryRelatively lower.Relatively higher.
SurgeryAssist in surgery.Perform surgery.


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  2. The Transition to First Position as Nurse Practitioner | Journal of Nursing Education (