@JaneAir - Actually, doctors do have a higher education level than nurse practitioners. A doctor has a doctorate degree while an NP typically has a masters. However they do practice medicine at about the same level with the doctor being able to do slightly more than the NP.
I agree with you that nurse practitioners tend to have a better bedside manner. I think this is because a lot of nurse practitioners start at the bottom and work their way up. Some of them even start out as CNAs which basically do all the "grunt work" of patient care. So by the time someone is an NP they have a lot of experience working with patients and a pretty broad knowledge of the medical field.