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Lawyer vs. Nurse Practitioner: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

There are many different types of medical professionals, each with their own unique set of skills and responsibilities. Two common roles in the medical field are that of a lawyer and a nurse practitioner. Though these positions share some similarities, there are several key differences between them.

In this article, we discuss the differences between a lawyer and a nurse practitioner, and we provide additional medical professions you may be interested in pursuing.

What is a Lawyer?

Lawyers advise and represent individuals, businesses, and government agencies on legal issues and disputes. They conduct research and analyze legal data to determine the best course of action for their clients. Lawyers present findings and recommendations to clients, government officials, and other interested parties in the form of oral arguments and written documents. They also represent their clients in court proceedings, mediations, and arbitrations. Lawyers may specialize in a particular area of law, such as criminal law, family law, or environmental law.

What is a Nurse Practitioner?

A Nurse Practitioner (NP) is a registered nurse (RN) who has completed additional training and education in a specialty area of nursing. NPs are prepared to provide a wide range of primary and specialty health care services to individuals, families and communities. They are licensed to diagnose and treat medical conditions, order and interpret diagnostic tests, and prescribe medications and other treatments. NPs work in a variety of settings, including hospitals, clinics, private practices, nursing homes, schools and public health departments.

Lawyer vs. Nurse Practitioner

Here are the main differences between a lawyer and a nurse practitioner.

Job Duties

Lawyers and nurse practitioners have some similar job duties, such as diagnosing patients and advising them on their options for treatment. However, the primary role of a lawyer is to defend clients in court, while the primary role of a nurse practitioner is to treat patients through medicine and nursing care.

A lawyer’s job duties include researching laws relevant to each case they take and presenting this information to their clients. They also advise their clients on how to best proceed with their cases and represent them in court. A lawyer may spend most of their workday in an office setting.

Nurse practitioners conduct physical and medical exams of patients to determine the appropriate course of treatment. They may provide advice to patients about how certain life choices affect their health and recommend lifestyle changes. Nurse practitioners often perform these duties while working in a hospital or clinic setting.

Job Requirements

Lawyers must first earn a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university. They then must attend law school and earn a Juris Doctor degree. After completing their education, lawyers must pass the bar exam in the state where they wish to practice. Some states have reciprocity agreements that allow lawyers to practice in multiple states if they meet certain requirements.

Nurse practitioners typically need at least a master’s degree in nursing, although some may hold a doctorate. They must also be licensed as registered nurses and pass a national certification exam. The specific requirements vary by state, but nurse practitioners must complete continuing education courses to maintain their licenses.

Work Environment

Lawyers and nurse practitioners work in different environments. Lawyers typically work in an office setting, where they can focus on paperwork and research. They may also travel to meet with clients or attend court hearings. Nurse practitioners usually work in a clinical environment, such as a hospital or doctor’s office. They spend most of their time caring for patients and providing medical care.

Both professions require professionals to work long hours and weekends. However, lawyers often have more flexibility in their schedules than nurse practitioners do. This is because nurses must follow strict protocols when administering medications and treatments.


There are several similarities between lawyers and nurse practitioners in terms of the skills they use on the job. Both professions require excellent communication skills, as they need to be able to explain complex concepts to clients or patients. They also both need to have strong research skills to be able to find relevant information quickly. Additionally, both lawyers and nurse practitioners need to be able to think critically and solve problems effectively.

However, there are also some differences in the skills required for these two professions. For example, lawyers need to have strong writing skills to be able to draft legal documents, while nurse practitioners need to have strong clinical skills to be able to diagnose and treat patients. Additionally, lawyers need to be familiar with the law and legal procedures, while nurse practitioners need to be familiar with medical terminology and treatments.


The average salary for a lawyer is $94,905 per year, while the average salary for a nurse practitioner is $111,297 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the type of work you do, your location and your experience level.


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