A career in medicine can be rewarding, challenging and high-paying. With these qualities, it’s no wonder enrollment for those interested in becoming a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine has recently been at an all-time high. According to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), there was a 27 percent growth in applicants to AACOM colleges over the course of four years. In 2011, there were 14,087 prospective students, and the number jumped to 17,944 in 2014. However, a recent survey from Massachusetts General Hospital found that many primary care physicians would recommend that qualified students pursue a career as a nurse practitioner – a profession that doesn’t require a doctoral degree.
So, what exactly are the differences between a nurse practitioner and a physician? According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), both medical professionals can diagnose and treat patients. The exact duties vary from one state to another, but the educational requirements for each are quite different.
The BLS explains that nurse practitioners must be licensed registered nurses who go on to earn an advanced degree in a specialty role. They need both classroom and clinical experience, and must pass a national certification exam. On the other hand, physicians are required to complete medical school, as well as an additional number of years in a residency program. Students should consider these factors when deciding on the type of medical professional they aspire to be.