There are numerous reasons to become an NP instead of an MD.
For instance, nurse practitioners diagnose medical conditions, prescribe medication, administer treatments and act as primary care providers.
They also own and operate clinics solely in full-practice states or with a physician in reduced and restricted-practice states.
The rest of this article covers seven reasons to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner and how they differ from medical doctors.
1. Faster Entry into Professional Healthcare
There is no doubt that medical doctors are extensively trained and highly knowledgeable.
These medical professionals spend at least a decade honing their skills to provide top-notch medical care.
Nurse practitioners are highly skilled specialists who deliver care to patients with various ailments and medical conditions.
That said, nurse practitioners enter professional healthcare faster than medical doctors.
As a result, they can develop their reputation, expertise, and hands-on experience years before MDs.
Even more, existing registered nurses can become nurse practitioners in 2 – 4 years, depending on their degree.
Medical doctors require 10 – 14 years of education, including a 10,000-hour + residency/fellowship program.
Therefore, numerous MDs spend up to twice as long in school as nurse practitioners.
Finally, students who earn their ADN or BSN degree can enter the healthcare field within 2 – 4 years.
It allows them to gain experience, earn money and determine whether pursuing an APRN degree is worth it.
Students pursuing medical degrees have more difficulty gaining the same hands-on experience as registered nurses.
As a result, developing early hands-on medical care experience is harder to determine whether it’s the right career.
2. NPs Earn Money Faster
As previously mentioned, nurse practitioners enter professional healthcare faster than medical doctors.
As a result, they can earn money more quickly and support their lifestyle.
Nurse practitioners make a good living, pay off student loans faster, and quickly establish their careers with the money they earn.
Although medical doctors earn more than nurse practitioners, it can take twice as long to make a salary.
Also, medical doctors are left with more expensive student loans when they finish college.
Advanced practice registered nurses and nurse practitioners earn six figures a year in various disciplines.
Therefore, nurse practitioners often make a good living with great careers and hard work.
Finally, registered nurses can pursue their advanced degrees full-time or part-time.
Pursuing a part-time degree enables them to earn an income while becoming a nurse practitioner.
However, it takes longer to earn a degree (up to twice as long) for part-time students than for full-time students.
3. NP School is Less Expensive Than MD School
Becoming a nurse practitioner is significantly less expensive than becoming a medical doctor.
Some estimates state that an entire MSN program for nurse practitioners can cost the same as one year of medical school!
Besides that, nurse practitioner school is also less expensive than attending PA school.
Becoming a nurse practitioner is excellent for those wanting a high-level healthcare profession without taking on more college debt than necessary.
In short, medical doctors earn more than nurse practitioners on average.
However, they take much longer to become licensed and have higher student loans.
The increased loan cost and 10 – 14 years to become an MD mean paying off hefty student loans starts later and requires more time.
4. NP School is Less Demanding Than MD School
Medical school and PA school require students to possess a higher GPA than nursing school.
As a result, it’s more difficult for students to gain entry into an MD program than nursing students.
The medical school also accepts fewer admissions, and students spend twice as long to become MDs.
Once in medical school, students spend an incredible amount of time studying medicine and other topics not taught in nursing school.
As a result, the coursework is very complicated and daunting for most medical students.
Nurse practitioner students also have challenging coursework focused on a specialized medical care field.
However, many nursing students have spent years as registered nurses and understand the demands of their profession.
They also have a job to fall back on as registered nurses if they stop pursuing a nurse practitioner license.
Finally, medical students must take 6,000+ clinical clerkship hours and participate in a 10,000+ hour residency/fellowship program to become medical doctors.
Nursing students only require 600-800+ hours of clinical experience, and no residency program is needed.
5. More Direct Patient Care Role
Nurse practitioners spend more time with patients than medical doctors.
Therefore, becoming an NP is excellent for nurses who want hands-on time caring for others.
That said, there are numerous specializations nurse practitioners can seek if they prefer non-bedside careers.
Because nurse practitioners provide more specialized care, their duties often vary from registered nurses.
For instance, nurse practitioners diagnose medical conditions, prescribe medications, and develop and administer treatment plans.
Registered nurses monitor patient vitals and health, feed, bathe, and clean patients, update medical records and documentation, administer (not prescribe) medications and treatments, and perform other daily tasks.
6. Broad Range of Specializations
Nurse practitioners have numerous career specializations, depending on their education and preferences.
These specialists work in adult care, pediatrics/neonatal care, mental health, and women’s health, among other professions.
Numerous nurse practitioners also own clinics and practice independently in full-practice states or work with an employer.
In reduced or restricted practice states, nurse practitioners may also run clinics.
However, they must work with physicians to sign off on medical-related tasks.
The diversity of nurse practitioner disciplines ensures many students can pick a domain that suits their interests and expertise.
Healthcare Specializations Include:
- Adult care
- Family care
- Legal consulting
- Neonatal care
- Psychiatric mental health
- Women’s Health
And numerous other career disciplines.
Nursing students must pick a domain to specialize in because their education centers around a particular course of study.
However, some nurse practitioners can change careers reasonably quickly if there is enough overlap in the differing domain.
Those in careers with little overlap must go back to school to obtain the necessary education, training, and certifications.
7. Better Work/Life Balance
Unlike doctors/physicians, many nurse practitioners do not have to worry about constantly being on-call.
Therefore, nurse practitioners spend less time working with numerous NPs, 40 hours per week.
Some nurse practitioners work overtime or extra hours depending on their career demands.
Nurse practitioners diagnose common medical conditions, prescribe medications, and develop treatment plans.
However, the physician must sign off on particular tasks in some states and diagnose complex and rare diseases.
As a result, physicians are often responsible for making tough decisions and supervising other staff members.
Because nurse practitioners enter healthcare sooner than medical doctors, they earn money faster than MDs.
Therefore, they have less stress paying back student loans after graduation.
It allows nurse practitioners to develop a work/life balance and build a financial nest egg quicker than medical doctors.
Many nurse practitioners also don’t need to worry about taking work home.
Medical doctors often make the final decisions.
As a result, they need to spend a lot of time diagnosing, managing, and treating severe and complex illnesses/diseases.
It’s easier to leave job responsibilities at the door and relax once the work shift is over for nurse practitioners.
That said, every career is different.
Undoubtedly, nurse practitioners work overtime, make difficult decisions, and have financial obligations.
8. Numerous Work From Home Options
Nurse practitioners have multiple work-from-home careers they can pursue due to their extensive nursing background.
For instance, nurse practitioners work in education, legal consulting, or case management to provide education and support.
It enables them to utilize computers and phones to perform their duties virtually from the comfort of their homes.
They also operate remotely as home/primary care nurses, psychiatric mental health professionals, and telephone triage.
- Case management
- Home care and primary care
- Legal consulting
- Medical writing
- Nurse blogger/entreprenuer
- Psychiatric mental health nursing
- Sales and marketing
- Telephone triage
- And more
Working from home is excellent for nurse practitioners who want more flexible schedules and better time management.
It enables them to provide education, support, and care remotely without getting dressed, commuting, and operating in a busy and highly active work setting.
It also provides more flexibility in raising a family, managing home duties, and helping nurse practitioners with specific needs.
As previously mentioned, there are over one hundred specializations for nurses to pursue.
As a result, nurse practitioners have many unique and distinct work-from-home opportunities throughout their careers.
Some medical doctors work from home to a certain extent, with less variety than nurse practitioners.
However, their careers are more restricted and patient-facing making it challenging to find many work-from-home jobs.
9. Excellent Travel Opportunities
Highly skilled nurse practitioners are in high demand in numerous states and cities.
Moreover, many specializations frequently need travel nurses to offset employee shortages.
A well-trained and educated nurse practitioner has countless possibilities to work in diverse locations and environments.
Best of all, travel nurses receive numerous benefits that incentivize them to work for specific locations temporarily.
It includes free housing, a travel stipend, rental car reimbursement, sign-on bonuses, and excellent hourly wages.
Travel nurses typically work on short-term assignments lasting several weeks to several months.
It enables them to work in various domains based on their appointment, which is perfect for those who love trying new things.
Being a travel nurse also provides more flexibility regarding free time and schedule.
Travel nurse practitioners can take several weeks or months off to enjoy themselves when not on assignment.
Finally, high-demand travel nurses can decide whether to accept particular assignments.
They don’t need to work at locations or healthcare facilities that don’t offer enough incentives to take temporary positions.
Comparatively, very few doctors travel due to their healthcare settings and long-term care with their patients.
Doctors often see patients for many years, making it challenging to travel frequently and oversee their existing staff.
10. Fantastic Leadership Career Options
The nursing industry is vast, with many different career levels, educational statuses, and specializations.
Millions of nurses work annually, supporting patients, staff, students, educators, businesses, and the healthcare system.
As a result, there are numerous management, educational, and leadership career possibilities for nurse practitioners.
Nurse practitioners have tons of direct care experience as registered nurses.
As a result, they understand the needs of their staff and patients thoroughly.
It enables them to make excellent leaders or managers overseeing their registered nursing teams.
The broad range of leadership, management, and academic careers enables nurse practitioners to pursue their career passions.