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Aug 23

Nurse Practitioner vs. Doctor - What You Need to Know!

By: Jake Schneider

When people feel sick or need a wellness check, they tend to make an appointment with a medical doctor. Did you know you have other options? For any medical concerns associated with illness or wellness checks, you can also see a nurse practitioner (NP).

In recent years, there has been a large demand for more primary care providers. NPs can easily fill these roles to help people achieve and/or maintain good health.

Why NPs are a Good choice for Healthcare Providers

NPs, much like MDs, go into the healthcare field to help people stay well. Much like MDs, NPs are committed to disease prevention, wellness, and doing no harm. State laws determine what NPs can do as practitioners, but in many states, they have full practice authority. The American Association of Nurse Practitioners states almost 90% of NPs are certified to practice primary care. As a result, patients can receive safe and high-quality healthcare services in a timely and cost-effective manner.

Comparing NPs and MDs

Nurse practitioners generally must possess a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in nursing. Many choose to pursue additional training and earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree and/or additional post-master's NP certificates. NPs attend six to eight years of postsecondary education and training before they become fully-fledged practitioners. Doctors must complete a four-year degree in a pre-med discipline, attend medical school, and participate in residencies. In all, they need about 11 years of postsecondary education and training. Both professionals are able to:

  • Order, perform and interpret lab work, diagnostic tests, and x-rays.

  • Diagnose patient ailments and provide courses of treatment.

  • Document patient events and maintain patient records.

  • Provide counseling about health conditions.

  • Educate patients about disease prevention and preventative healthcare choices.

Just like doctors, NPs can manage their patients’ overall care and prescribe medications. Specific responsibilities permitted are designated by state laws. Some states do require NPs to work in conjunction with an MD or under their supervision, but they generally offer the same services.

Benefits of Seeing an NP

People often visit a primary care physician for persistent/serious illnesses or ongoing health issues, and their doctor can develop a long-term treatment plan. NPs can handle these situations as well since they are equally skilled and knowledgeable.

  • Appointments for MDs often have longer wait times and NPs usually have more open slots and can provide relief sooner.

  • Urgent care needs are often best served by an NP.

  • NPs can serve as a complement to a primary care physician.

  • MDs and NPs often collaborate to provide their patients with the highest level of care in a timely fashion.

  • NP visits are often less costly than appointments with MDs.

  • Care provided by NPs is effective, safe, and patient-centered.

While there are some differences, there are more similarities between an MD and an NP than many people realize. Having the option to see either means you get the best of both worlds with your healthcare.

At Prime Healthcare, PC we strive to ensure you receive the highest quality of healthcare services. Contact us to book your next appointment.

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