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Differences Between Nursing and Medicine

Nursing vs Medicine

Nursing and medicine are both fulfilling careers. Both handle patients. Most importantly, both handle lives. It is a career that endures knowledge, skills, and attitude because it is one of the most difficult degrees to accomplish.

Comparing education, medicine takes almost 12-15 years of education and training. Nursing takes four years for the Bachelor’s degree while the Associate’s degree only takes two years. Medicine requires numerous specific courses, such as, Anatomy 1, Anatomy 2, Physiology 1, and Physiology 2. In nursing, science subjects are general such as Anatomy and Physiology combined. In medicine, diseases are discussed in depth. The pathophysiology of the disease is discussed at the biomolecular level. In nursing, diseases are also discussed in depth but not as specifically as in medicine. The pathophysiology is discussed at the body system level only.

When it comes to expenses for education, doctors have invested almost 300,000 USD on medical school alone. Nurses, on the other hand, have spent 100,000-150,000 USD on a Bachelor’s degree excluding a Masters. It is definitely more expensive to become a doctor.

With skills, nurses master more than 150 skills that can be applied during clinical rotations. Doctors should master those skills and many more depending on the specialty they are taking. Nurses can choose among specializations, such as, Oncology Nurse, Dialysis Nurse, and Emergency Nurse. In certain areas, such as, Nurse Anesthetist, nurses must earn a Master’s degree in order to specialize. Doctors, on the other hand, will undergo a residency, and they can choose from specialties like Pediatrics, Geriatrics, Internal Medicine, Surgery, and a lot more. Residency takes 2-3 years after medical school. If they want to concentrate on a specific part of the body, they can undergo a fellowship which takes an additional 2-3 years.

In hospital settings, doctors give orders; they prescribe medicine; they give the diagnosis and prognosis of the patient, and they perform surgery. They also participate in medical research. The nurse cannot do all of these or else there will be breach of responsibility. This may be brought to court, and the nurse may be a candidate for license revocation. Nurses, on the other hand, carry out the doctor’s orders. They give medications to the patients and are in charge of updating the doctor regarding the patient’s condition. Nurses can also assist the doctors during operations and surgery. They can also save lives in the absence of doctors by giving cardiopulmonary resuscitation to revive the patient. Nurses are concentrated towards nursing research.

Either way, both careers are indeed fulfilling. To see a patient back to his state of health brings happiness to a doctor and nurse’s eye.



Medicine takes 12-15 years of education and training. Nursing only takes four years.

The cost of education in medicine is much more expensive than nursing.

The responsibility and tasks of doctors are greater than nurses.

Nursing has fewer specializations compared to medicine.

Both careers are fulfilling and noble.

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  1. I would like to add to the above post; specifically, regarding the role of the nurse. While MDs and ODs treat disease, and do so very well, nurses treat the individual’s response to disease. For example, a physician may prescribe medication after performing diagnostic studies on a patient; he has treated illness/disease. The nurse’s function is to examine the patient’s response to the treatment and hopefully ensure knowledgeable compliance on the patient’s part. In order to do this, the nurse performs a wholistic assessment of the patient’s cognitive and emotional function, as well as psychosocial status, current living situation, cultural influences, and physical response to the MD’s treatment regime. The art of nursing entails expert emotional support and affirmation of patients, and teaching is one of the nurse’s greatest roles. “Carrying out physicians’ orders” is only one aspect of nursing care, and a relatively small one at that. Were that the case, we would need only waitresses to perform this function!

    • Absolutely correct, a MDs may prescribe a wrong drug or dosage, so is the responsibility of a nurse to review using the knowledge of pharmacology to draw the attention of the MDs for appropriate correction base on rational.

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