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There is no doubt how important healthcare is in today’s world. It is an indispensable pillar of every society, ensuring that citizens are healthy enough to contribute to its productivity. For this reason, countries spend a lot on delivering quality healthcare services to their people and creating awareness of how crucial holistic healthcare can be.

Aside from the health budget delivered by the government, individuals are also needed to serve in different capacities as healthcare professionals. The field of medicine is extensive and incorporates a lot of professions. Contemporary medicine, for instance, covers disciplines in biomedical science and research, genetics and medical technology to cure and prevent diseases.

One predominant aspect of medicine, however, is clinical practice. These professionals work closely with patients in a hospital. The term ‘clinical practice’ always brings one profession to mind: medical doctors. However, not all clinicians are physicians. Other career paths in this field of medicine are specialists, psychotherapists and nurse clinicians.

What does a nurse practitioner do?

A nurse practitioner is a professional nurse with a graduate degree in advanced practice nursing. These clinical practitioners are also called advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) or advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNP).

The responsibilities and privileges of nurse practitioners differ based on the state in which they practice. For instance, some professionals are allowed to practice independently in healthcare institutions. In some states, nurses must work as part of a healthcare team comprising doctors and other specialists.

While nurse practitioners are recognized as advanced clinical professionals worldwide, they are licensed in different ways depending on the laws governing the jurisdiction in which they practice. Nevertheless, there is a level of consistency in licensing, and nurse practitioners can conveniently practice in different locations. To become a licensed nurse practitioner, an individual must obtain a doctorate in nursing. Alternatively, a master’s degree and national certification are sufficient for a license.

National certifications are obtained through different nursing institutions. To take a nursing certification program, a professional is required to complete either a doctorate or master’s degree program. Nurses looking to become practitioners can specialize in the following fields:

  • Family health
  • Adult health
  • Acute care
  • Women’s health
  • Geriatric health
  • Pediatric health
  • Psychiatric health
  • Neonatal health
  • Orthopedics
  • Oncology
  • Nurse midwifery

Difference between nurse practitioners and doctors

Both nurse practitioners and doctors are responsible for offering top-quality healthcare services to improve patients’ conditions. Unsurprisingly, there are similarities in how both professionals go on with their responsibilities. However, they both represent different career paths in the field of medicine.

One vital difference between both aspects lies in specific responsibilities. Nurse practitioners’ duties are closely associated with providing primary care, as opposed to doctors, who could also engage in complex diagnoses, treatment and care. Practicing nurses are more concerned with the fundamental source of wellness, including eating habits, exercising and controlling substance addictions.

Nurse practitioners’ flexible and encompassing careers make them valuable in the healthcare industry. Aside from delivering primary care, nurses are also qualified to engage in industry research and take on administrative or educational responsibilities. Here are some other key differences between a nurse practitioner and a doctor.

Educational requirements

To thrive in either career, an individual must obtain an advanced degree. A license is also indispensable to pursuing a career as a doctor or nurse practitioner. However, the educational requirements for both professions are hugely dissimilar.

The path to becoming a doctor is relatively well-known. It starts with an undergraduate degree, followed by medical school and several years of residency programs to build experience. Graduate degrees and licenses can then come in. Altogether, it could take about 10 to 15 years to become a licensed doctor, depending on the specialization.

Becoming a nurse practitioner is a lot easier and more straightforward – so much so that the most advanced nursing degree, a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), can be attained without having a master’s degree. The only prerequisite for a DNP degree is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). In summary, the highest educational qualification for a nurse practitioner is not as comprehensive as that required for a doctor.

Skillset

Like other professionals, nurse practitioners and doctors require special, perfectly tailored skills to ensure success. Some competencies are similar in both professions, such as the ability to think fast and critically, communicate effectively and show empathy.

While they possess similar transferable skills, other unique skill sets are peculiar to both professions. Firstly, nurse practitioners can engage in administrative roles. This makes it essential for them to develop management and leadership skills. Another critical competency that’s peculiar to nurse practitioners is the ability to promote a trusting environment with patients.

Career opportunities

Unsurprisingly, the most evident dissimilarity between both professionals lies in the different career opportunities they qualify for. A career in nursing is very flexible, and this is apparent in its predicted growth. According to 2016 research by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of nurse practitioners is projected to grow by 45% in 2030, as opposed to the 3% growth predicted for the doctor field.

There are different reasons for an increase in career opportunities in nursing. One key determinant is the sheer number of specializations on offer. On average, doctors earn more than nurses, with a median pay of about $210,000 annually, compared to a nurse’s $111,000. However, administrative-level nurses do make quite a lot. Additionally, nurse practitioners also have the opportunity to impact healthcare on a personal level.

Obtain an advanced nursing degree from Walsh University

Walsh University offers quality online nursing, business and counseling programs for professionals looking to reach the top of their careers. As a nurse practitioner, Walsh University’s online DNP programs give you advanced knowledge to engage in nurse practitioner specializations, as well as management skills required to impact the healthcare industry positively.

Step up in your career and lead the way as an advanced practicing nurse with Walsh University’s online DNP programs. With this program, professionals can also develop organizational and health systems skills and critical thinking competencies essential for spearheading improvement in any health institution.

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