Major Differences Between Doctors and Nurses

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This article delves into the nuanced differences between doctors and nurses, shedding light on the indispensable contributions these professionals make within the medical field.

Differences Between Doctors and Nurses: Doctors and nurses generally rank at the top of the health profession. Doctors come first, and followed by nurses. Both are highly admired fields of practice, and they are of most essence to the society, judging from their relevance and degree of contribution. The need for good health can never be underestimated. Thus, the roles of doctors and nurses remain vital to human beings.

This does not in any way underestimate the relevance of other health professionals.  For the purpose of this article, our focus is on doctors and nurses. In highlighting their differences, various details about the professions shall be given.

Differences Between Doctors and Nurses

Who is a Doctor?

Doctors are physicians and members of the medical profession who are trained and licensed to diagnose patients and provide solutions to health problems. Of course, their services also extend to providing solutions for the prevention of illnesses. Their primary objective is to maintain overall well-being of the individual members of the society. Doctors are ranked highest in the medical profession due to the vitality degree of their roles.

Due to their relevance, the profession is most revered in the society. Aspiring to become a doctor is equally a competitive exercise. It is competitive in the sense that many want to become a doctor but not all are willing and/or able to withstand the hurdle and the means leading to the end. One aspiring to be a doctor is required to undergo and acquire an undergraduate degree in medicine and surgery. The specification may differ, depending on the country.

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Graduating from the medical school does qualify one as a certified medical doctor following his induction and licensing. The journey does not end there. In some states, partial licence is granted until the pupil undergoes housemanship or internship. There is also need for residency training after which the candidates take up further examinations and specialize afterwards. There are many fields of specialty where doctors may choose to specialize. Whilst some may choose to specialize in general medicine, some may prefer surgery, which has further areas of specialty.

Doctors have the role of examining patients. They can diagnose patients, recommend tests to be conducted, interpret tests, conduct surgical operations and recommend treatments.

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Who is a Nurse?

Nurses are usually rated next to doctors. They have the nearest proximity to doctors and patients. Their objective is typically the same with that of medical doctors. And in fact, they share similar roles with medical doctors. Nurses can diagnose patients and proffer solutions and treatments. There is also room for specialty in the nursing profession, although the fields are not as varying as that of doctors.

There are surgical nurses, auxiliary nurses midwives, cardiac nurses, obstetrics, oncologist, neonatologists, psychiatrists, certified nursing assistants, and so on. Nurses collaborate with other health care professionals, especially doctors in order to develop treatment plans for patients. Specifically, nurses see to the implementation of such treatment plans. They take instructions from the doctors and they have the direct responsibility of monitoring the patients’ health and development.

Qualifying as a nurse demands an undergraduate study of nursing and being certified with the necessary license for practising. The nature of the license depends on the category of institution attended, and of course, the country.

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Differences Between Doctors and Nurses

Inasmuch as doctors and nurses have the same objectives and play similar roles in the society, a number of differences can be highlighted in the both professions as follows:

1. Training and qualification: The qualifications of doctors differ from that of nurses. The training processes are not entirely the same, although there are some overlaps in the courses of study. Educational trainings for doctors are broader and more in-depth. Doctors spend more years being students than nurses. Doctors in Nigeria must have undergone undergraduate training for 6 years and at least 5 years, and they must have scaled through all the professional examinations.

Doctors do go for housemanship and then residency training where training continues. For nurses, their studies last about 5 years. In nursing school and other specialized nursing institutions, the training is about 3 years, although this may vary depending on the program. In other countries, the number of years differs, but certainly, the number of years is higher for doctors. Having undergone their various programs, the qualifications with which they come out it differ.

2. Scope of duty: Doctors and nurses share similar roles. In a standard medical institution, however, the roles of doctors and nurses differ. Doctors are principally in charge of diagnosing patients and making all recommendations in respect of treatments. Although, most often, nurses receive the patients at first-hand. So, nurses offer first-aid treatments and maintain the stability of patients while awaiting a doctor to commence proper and conclusive diagnosis, recommendations and treatment.

The role of the nurses basically in such standard medical institution is to implement the treatments given by the doctors, and also monitor the improvement of patients. Nurses play an auxiliary role. Thus, they assist the doctors through the whole process of treating a patient. Again, while doctors can conduct surgical operations, nurses cannot. They can only assist the doctors in the process. Nurses specialised with such role are known as surgical nurses.

3. Area of specialty: For both professions, there are rooms for specilisation. In fact, specialization is the hallmark practising both professions. A little distinction is that doctors have more options of specialization, and it is most necessary that they specialize.

For doctors, specialization demands further intensive education in the course of the practice. Doctors do take examinations to qualify them in their area of specialty after they must have undergone the training. Specialization on the other hand, for nurses, is not as intensive as it is for doctors. Not much commitment is ascribed to it, at least when compared to that of doctors.

4. Ranking: Clearly and unarguably, doctors are ranked higher to nurses. In that sense, and practically speaking, doctors enjoy better autonomy in decision-making as it relates to patients. This is not very so for nurses. Nurses are not very free to make decisions independently as I relates to patients.

In the scope of authority, the doctors rank higher. In that case, they take instructions from the doctors as it relates to treatment. This does not entail that they cannot make independent decisions. Of course, they can. The distinction being made is simply the fact that doctors have better autonomy and can override nurses’ decisions regarding the treatment of a patient.

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5. Degree of responsibility: Flowing from the above discussed ranking, it is logical that doctors bear more degree of responsibility in respect of patients than nurses. Whilst the role of nurses cannot be underestimated, it seems that treatment commences after the doctor has arrived. In that same vein, the responsibility of doctors is direct, whilst that of nurses is secondary, since they merely implement doctors’ recommendations.

6. Different regulations and regulatory bodies: Having undergone the necessary education requirement for both professions, qualified candidates are inducted into the medical and nursing profession council respectively.

The names of the regulatory bodies vary according to countries. Doctors and nurses do not belong to the same body. Thus, they are not regulated by the same professional body.

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Conclusion

The medical profession is a very broad one and has been disintegrated into various bodies and specialties for the purpose of efficiency. The doctors and nurses still remain at the top in hierarchy, but not in any way suggested to undermine the relevance of others. The differences between these two professions are a fine one.

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