“66 Percent of Doctors Recommend Careers as Nurse Practitioners Instead” – Did you read it?

iStock | LuminaStock

iStock | LuminaStock

Science 2.0 recently reported on a new study that found that 66 percent of doctors surveyed said that becoming a nurse practitioner is the way to go…even more so than being a doctor! Read excerpts from the article below to see why.

The article starts off with an explanation:

Despite high wages, there has been a shortage of primary care physicians in America, and the Affordable Care Act, coupled with an increased “teach to the protocol” environment in medical school, is going to make the shortage worse. 

With medical school costing so much, and increasing procedural limitations on how patients can be treated, doctors are starting to wonder how much of medicine actually requires a general practitioner. Becoming a general medical doctor may not be worth it, according to recent recommendations from doctors that qualified students pursue careers as nurse practitioners rather than as primary care physicians.

The survey:

In 2012, a survey was mailed to a national random sample of 1,914 physicians and nurse practitioners—957 each. Responses were received from 467 nurse practitioners and 505 physicians. The responses showed significant differences in how primary care physicians and nurse practitioners view the scope of practice and the overall quality of services provided by the two types of professionals. In a new paper, the authors discuss those responses and the perceptions regarding the supply of primary care clinicians in the U.S., their satisfaction with their current employment and their careers in general, and whether they would recommend that qualified high school or college students pursue careers as primary care physicians or as nurse practitioners. 

The outcome:

Spending taxpayer money convincing people to become doctors is not going to work when even doctors don’t recommend being doctors. Over 80 percent of both groups agreed that there is a national shortage of primary care physicians, but 66 percent of primary care physicians recommended careers as primary care nurse practitioners. Among nurse practitioners, 88 percent would recommend that students pursue being a nurse practitioner.

But why?

The twin cultural pincers of critics insisting they are incompetent or being paid off by drug companies and more government rules and a checklist of defensive medicine strategies and protocols, coupled with lower pay, make being a general practitioner a thankless job compared to the past. Nurse practitioners still get to help people, and they seem to be a lot happier than doctors.

Nurses, what do you think of this study? And what medical profession would YOU recommend for new students? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

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5 Responses to “66 Percent of Doctors Recommend Careers as Nurse Practitioners Instead” – Did you read it?

  1. Heather Troyer

    I’m currently a nursing student, and as such I would say that nurses are taught how to CARE for their patients and advocating for them. I plan on pursuing a career as a nurse practitioner, and I have realized, just by having doctor and hospital visits myself, that a nurse practitioner begins his/her career as a nurse, thereby developing a more caring and understanding relationship with people. MDs, unfortunately, are unable to receive this part of the education. By the time they finish with school they are burnt out. I have always enjoyed my PCP, who happens to be a DNP.

  2. Debi Deason

    I am a nurse by training, but retired due to physical disabilities. I have worked with a lot of doctors and nurses over my 30 years in the field, in 4 states. With the current climate in health care, I do not blame doctors for being disillusioned with medicine. It has always seemed to me that nursing provides a much broader range of possibilities to explore, as one is not locked into a specialty. The nurse practitioners I have known over the years have usually seemed much more satisfied with their career path. I think nurses are so much more connected to patients because we spend so much more time with them. I would definitely encourage someone interested in direct patient care to pursue a nurse practitioner career over being a general practitioner medical doctor.

  3. mfressola

    The grass is always greener on the other side. I am a nurse practitioner and I find the article interesting. But until the medical Doctor walks a few steps in a Np’s shoes, they may want to curb their opinion until they get an improved clue. The problems with being a NP are many and allow me to list them. 1. You are always tethered to the Doctor in most states.. meaning your autonomy is questionable 2. Although I graduated from a top 10 NP school I find the training subpar ;training is based on a delusional nursing model that ill prepares you for the job market. You will waste countless hours in useless classes like Stats, nurse research , and writing countless papers that may prep you for academia but not for medicine.. oh for the gee whiz file… I received a half day in 12 lead ECG interpretation. Oh did I mention I graduated from a top ten rated school? But I can write in APA format with the best of them 3. Most importantly, what I find most frustrating and am sure that 100% of the 66% of the Drs being referenced in this article does not understand is that with all the hard work and money spent to become an NP,, the NPs income is not much better than the bedside nurse and in many situations can be worse. Only in nursing can you drop 100 grand on education and countless hours in training and school and barley have foreword movement in your wages, but this is the kicker,, if you screw up you will be sued just as the Dr. So you get 100% of the responsibility but half the wages.
    Now with the complexion of medicine in this country changing, the NPs role and significance will change and most likely improve. But for the NP to improve their bottom line; wages must improve and laws must change so that we are not tied to and be under the Drs control. Lastly and most importantly Advance practice nurse education is in dire need of an enema. Perhaps the docs should examine the NP’s path a bit closer prior to formulating an opinion.

    • pranvera1

      Mfressola, I am an RN currently enrrolled in the FNP program. I am sorry to hear all your negative comments regarding the profession, we all speak from our experiences and of course view things from our perspective, however, I was taught if you have nothing nice to say dont say anything at all and from what I read in your post is sad to hear that not only are you happy or satisfied with your experiences but it appears to me you might have entered the profession for the wrong reasons and thats why at this point you dont find satisfaction. But with all do respect you cant express your negativity and present it in such a way that could discourage someone who is in the early processes of trying to look for courage and comfort from their peers or others who have walked the path. In school they teach us to be leaders in the healthcare, I think leaders are born and they always inspire others to reach for their highest potentials regardless of their own circumstances, you never know your encourangment could be the only one that could influence the young professionals to make choices that will effect their future. I hope you reach deep into yourself and find what brings contentment into your life and what is it that really matter to you to bring happiness, money is not always the answer….Regards !!!!!!

  4. carolslee1949

    With very few exceptions, I have found that having a Nurse Practitioner as my primary care giver was more preferable to having an MD. As stated in the other posts, an NP seems to have the compassion of nursing, along with the education of advanced practice. Whenever I’ve had to see the MD, I’ve always felt like he was running a race between exam rooms, taking a cursory look at the problem, writing a prescription or order for a lab test, and then out the door. I would much rather have an NP who took the time to explain something to me or ask questions about other body systems without giving me the feeling that I’m taking up their time. I would advise a career as an NP any day.