The most important roles in the medical field are doctors and nurses. To fulfill their duties, both positions require a person to have intelligence and necessary skills accordingly. However, their duties and responsibilities as healthcare professionals differ. A doctor is usually the one that performs diagnosis and medical procedures while the nurse assists them. Sometimes, nurses perform certain procedures while the doctor reviews the results and make a diagnosis. Hence, there are some similarities and differences between the responsibilities of a nurse and a doctor.

Difference Between Doctors And Nurses

To a regular person, both of the professions may seem quite similar. But there is a stark difference in many aspects of a doctor’s and a nurse’s career. Such as:

The Difference In Education And Hands-On Training 

Doctors have to spend four years to finish their undergraduate degrees. Once done with that, their professional medical education lasts another four years. Once they have finished medical school, a doctor must spend three to seven years completing their residency program. The duration of their residency program depends upon the specialty they choose to pursue. Therefore, it takes a total of 10-14 years to become a doctor.

On the other hand, a nurse has to finish two to three years of nursing coursework as an associate degree in nursing. After that, a bachelor’s degree in nursing lasts three to four years. Depending upon their part-time or full-time work routine, they can opt to go for a master’s in nursing practice on campus or online. Similarly, nurses who want to pursue specializations may opt for on-campus or online DNP programs depending upon their work routine. In total, becoming a nurse can take around 2-14 years, depending upon the nurse’s aims, career goals, and work routine.

Differences In Work Schedule 

Nurses generally work eight to twelve hour-long shifts. The time span of their shift depends upon the healthcare facility. After their shift is over, a nurse is free to leave, letting other nurses handle their patients.

While a doctor still works in shifts, they have to remain on call in case of emergencies. Therefore, doctors also get called after their working hours to care for their patients if the need arises. They cannot turn over the complete responsibility of their patient to someone else.

The Difference In Specialization And Advancement 

A nurse has the liberty to choose their area of specialization even after they complete their license. If they wish to change, they can change without facing too many problems. Of course, to learn new specialization, the nurse must attend medical school to get their advanced degrees. But even after changing their specialization, nurses still maintain their original license. On the other hand, doctors must stick to their specialization unless they wish to pursue medical school all over again.

The Difference In Patient Care

A doctor is responsible for their patient’s overall care and health. Their responsibility includes going through the available information to make a diagnosis and prepare a care plan. Therefore, they cannot turn over the treatment of their patient to any other doctor.

A nurse is responsible for implementing the care plan and performing necessary procedures at their time. They also have the responsibility of reporting the patient’s response to the medical care plan. Their reports help the doctor assess whether the treatment is effective on the patient or not. Apart from that, nurses are responsible for their bedside care to help them feel more comfortable.

Ways Doctors and Nurses Are Different and Similar

Similarities Between Doctors And Nurses

While the responsibilities may differ, there are some similarities between doctors and nurses. Some of the similarities between a doctor and a nurse are:

Both Professions Hold The Responsibility Of Treating Patients

Nurses and doctors may perform different procedures and perform different duties. But at the core of it, they are both responsible for the patient’s health. Therefore, the most significant similarity between doctors and nurses is that they collaborate for the same goal.

Both Professions Work In The Same Environment

A doctor cannot fulfill their responsibility without a nurse, and a nurse needs the doctor’s expertise to devise a care plan for the patient. Hence, wherever there is a doctor, a nurse works in the same facility. Working in the same facility also calls for similar issues for both professions. Hence, whatever issue each professional faces, both must work together with the facility’s management to eliminate it.

Both Professions Work With The Same Aim 

While the motivation may differ from working in the medical field from person to person, each healthcare professional works towards the same aim. They aim to help people live healthier lives and walk out the doors of the facility happily.


Both nurses and doctors are noble professions that support each other to achieve the same goal. When doctors treat the patients, a nurse stays by the patient’s side to help them feel more comfortable.

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