Difference Between Nurse Practitioner and Doctor

Nurse practitioners are trained nurses. They are primary caregivers and are trained to diagnose conditions.


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They can prescribe medication to patients and also suggest treatment. They can interpret laboratory tests and come up with treatment plans.

Doctors got higher training than Nurse Practitioners. Their technique of treatment encompasses their entire training.

Their preparation in Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment is deep and intensive. The attention of doctors is more on identifying and treating diseases.

They diagnose the disease using drugs, radiation or surgery. Doctors can opt for any particular field of study.

They can advise on the medication and carry out the surgery. They can practice anywhere, provided they get the license.

Nurse Practitioner doesn’t specialize in a specific speciality like Doctors.

Key Takeaways

  1. Nurse practitioners are registered nurses with advanced education and training, allowing them to diagnose and treat illnesses, prescribe medications, and perform certain procedures.
  2. Doctors are medical professionals with extensive education and training, including a medical degree and residency, providing a broader scope of practice and greater authority in managing patient care.
  3. Both nurse practitioners and doctors play important roles in healthcare. Still, doctors have more extensive education and training, which can result in a deeper understanding of complex medical conditions and treatments.

Nurse Practitioner vs Doctor

The difference between Nurse Practitioners and Doctors is they both require distinct degrees in a particular professional field. A nurse practitioner requires a ‘Master of Science in Nursing’ (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree. Conversely, a doctor needs a ‘Medical degree’ (such as phD. or MBBS). A nurse practitioner is a mid-level specialist in the field, whereas a doctor is a high-level professional.

Nurse Practitioner vs Doctor

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Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonNurse PractitionerDoctors
EducationMust earn a degree in nursing and at least a master’s degree in nursingMust hold a bachelor’s degree and complete medical school.
Time to PracticeNurse practitioners take 6-8 years of education and training.Doctors take 11 years of education and training.
Typical DutiesTheir responsibilities differ to a great extent.Doctors’ duties vary depending on specialization.
License and CertificateThe licensing board licenses nurse practitioners. They must obtain a registered nurse license.The licensing board licenses them. Their requirements for licensure vary. They require recertification on a regular basis.
Continuing Education RequirementsContinuing education requirements for nurse practitioners vary depending on specialization.Continuing education and improvement or Continuing medical education vary depending on the state.
Career OutlookBetween 2016-2026 nurse practitioners would increase by 36% to other occupations. This is according to the BLS report of 2018.Openings for family and general doctors would grow 14% between 2016-2026, as per the 2018 BLS report.
Medical prescriptionsThey have to lias with doctors to prescribe pharmaceuticals, medical devices and specific treatments.They prescribe medication without collaborating with a nurse practitioner.


Who is Nurse Practitioner?

They are trained practitioners who determine patients’ needs and order and clarify the nature of an illness. They also read laboratory tests. They make plans and establish treatment for patients.

They work jointly with other professionals in the healthcare system to provide a full range of primary and distinctive healthcare services.

Health services the offers include:

  1. Managing patients care
  2. Prescribing medications and other treatments
  3. Counselling
  4. Educating patients on how to prevent diseases and upbeat health style
  5. Order, perform and interpret diagnostic tests like x-rays.
  6. They diagnose and treat acute and chronic conditions like diabetes, infections, and injuries.

Some nurse practitioners have also specialized in

  1. Pediatric/Child Health
  2. Acute Care
  3. Adult Health
  4. Oncology
  5. Family Health
  6. Women Health
  7. Mental Health
Nurse Practitioner

Who is Doctor?

A doctor is a qualified professional in the field of medicine. Their centre of work is to encourage, provide and bring back health.

They do this through study, diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment of disease and physical and mental impairments.

Doctor’s duties vary according to speciality, but all doctors need to do the following:

  1. Prescribe medication
  2. Prescribe and administer treatment
  3. Diagnose conditions
  4. Assess symptoms
  5. Refer patients to other providers, provide follow-up care, and interpret laboratory results.

Doctors are responsible for communicating findings to patients. They work with patients when they are at their most vulnerable.

They perform specific tasks related to their speciality.

For instance, surgeons should have the manual dexterity to do a precise operation. They should spend long hours in the operating room. 


Main Differences Between Nurse Practitioners and Doctor


A nurse practitioner needs to get a degree in Nursing. Should be a registered nurse and get a postgraduate degree.  Nurse practitioners need to spend four years as undergraduate students.  They need an internship period to gain work experience. They need to spend more 2-4 years to further their studies.

Doctors can hold both degrees (Doctor of Medicine or Osteopathic Medicine). They must graduate from medical school/programs and complete a residency.

They have to study for an undergraduate for four years. Spend another four in medical school.  And then spend 3-7 years of residency. Their education and professional coaching are extensively compared to a nurse practitioner.

Practice Authority

Nurse practitioners do not have full practice authority. They need to work closely or consult with the doctors to authorize medications. Often, nurse practitioners work under the supervision of doctors.

Doctors have direct jurisdiction. They offer practice services as per their education. They put in place their training and expertise without restrictions. Either supervision provided they have a license.


Nurse practitioners can concentrate and become experts in a particular service. Most of these areas include oncology and those listed above.

Doctors have these skills and expertise.  They are also experts in immunology, cardiology, dermatology, and more.

Timeline to Practice

Nurse practitioners take six to eight years of education and training.

Doctors spend 11 years of education and training.

Individual Philosophical Focus

Nurse practitioners are physicians. Most of their activities are in a state of good health and mental.

Doctors, at their core, are scientists. They research disorders and how to diagnose them.

Difference Between Nurse Practitioner and Doctor
  1. https://thorax.bmj.com/content/thoraxjnl/57/8/661.full.pdf
  2. https://www.magonlinelibrary.com/doi/abs/10.12968/bjon.1995.4.16.938
  3. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0272989×05284107
  4. https://bjgp.org/content/bjgp/38/312/314.full.pdf
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