What an interesting question you posed! As a Nurse Practitioner, I have often been asked the same question "Did you ever think about becomming a doctor?" I would be telling a lie if I said no. I think every young man thinks about being a Doctor an Astronaut and a cowboy at least a few times in their life!!!
Insofar as the respect thing... I have it, and pleanty of it, because I GIVE it. I value all nursing staff I work with, Nursing Assistants, LPN's, RN's [including diploma, ADN and BSN from another 'volatile' posting]... it doesn't matter, we all respect each other. The staff that I have the pleasure of working with know that they can ask me anything at anytime, and not just about patient's, but if they have their own health concerns as well.
My patient's give me respect because I listen to their concerns and I invite them to be part of the treatment plan [as any good nurse should]. As far as the doctor's go, I have met one or two insecure ones who have 'looked down their nose' at me, but it doesn't bother me, I just hope that one day they find a positive source of self-esteem. For the most part, my supervising and collaborating physicians are very good to me, they keep an eye on my professional development, NEVER miss an opportunity to teach me something, and are very supportive. Postive aspects of being 'just an N.P.', include not having to do many of the unpleasant tasks that the physician's have to do [evening/night/weekend/holiday coverage], etc.
Another N.P. friend of mine has already gone back to medical school. She loves it and thinks she was crazy for ever having become an N.P. in the first place. Personally, I guess I have the same option, but my interests lie along a different path.
The moral of my story is this: We all need each other. C.N.A.'s, L.P.N.'s, R.N.'s [whatever your degree status], N.P.'s, C.N.S.'s, and of course, M.D.'s/D.O.'s. We each bring something unique to the care of the patient, and it's knowing this that prevents me from EVER having any regrets about becomming a nurse.
Hope this answers your question.