Representing yourself to the public as a nurse when you are not a nurse - page 2

A family member was recently seen in an ER. One of her care providers introduced himself as a "med tech" and the family member asked "What does that mean?" and the response was " it is the same thing... Read More

  1. by   wish_me_luck
    I wanted to throw my two cents in. I don't think they represented themselves as a nurse. I agree with the poster that said if your family member knew the difference, why did they ask? I also agree with the people saying that the person did not say they were a nurse, they do stuff that is the same as a nurse. Also, I can't speak for the state of Florida, but where I live, in the ER, med techs/PCTs/CNAs, whatever they are called, actually do CNA/tech work and additional stuff that floor CNAs normally don't do (stuff that nurses probably would have done otherwise). In the ER, everyone seems to pitch in on patients because if the patient only had one nurse or one tech or whatever, then it's possible the patient would die in a true emergency. So, sometimes the lines are blurred and perhaps the med tech is in a role that the scope of practice (again don't know FL laws or anything) is greater than what you would normally think of on the floor.

    I'll give you an example. When I was in nursing school, pt came in with an MI. They swarmed the patient--nurse getting history, other nurse doing IV insertion, giving medications, etc. and tech doing EKG/ECG (pick your term, it's the same thing). Well, this past weekend, my dad had an MI. Again, they swarmed the patient (my dad). Nurse doing history, another nurse doing IV insertion and giving meds, a doctor in there, another nurse did the EKG/ECG. Note in the first case, it was a tech doing the EKG/ECG. In the second, it was a nurse doing the EKG/ECG. My point is, in the ER, med techs/PCTs/CNAs are more than your run of the mill tech. Their responsibilities are greater.

    Just a thought.
  2. by   ArrowRN
    To answer in your own words "introduced himself as a "med tech"" so what exactly is the problem here? if he introduced himself as a "nurse" then that would be misrepresentation, if he says same thing as or like a nurse, he could just mean in terms of taking care of a patient, in terms of talking to a lay-person. I find this whole enquiry a bit snoopy and deceiving of the family member not to strike up an honest conversation and continue to say, "hey there's nurses or whatever in my family and I know the difference"... instead of like spying on his every move...I find that to be so immature. Maybe the guy would have further explained himself if they had just stated he seems to be doing nurse assistant work...he might he just said, thats right, I'm a like CNA or something to that end I assume or could have said "really my XYZ has her BSN from ABC university, where did you go to school?" I sure he would have not only shown interest in what you had to say but also futher clarify his duties maybe even say yeah I plan to go to ABC for my BSN too, what are the requirements?..etc....
    When I was an EMT, because the service was so new to our country, many people we picked up in ambulance were continually calling us doctors, we did sometimes explain the difference hey we just here to take you to the doctor, but it gets to be a pain going through the explaination because they would call us doctors no matter what we say, I think its the same situation...he must have been asked that a million times...maybe the guy had aspiration to be a nurse one day, but we will never know, because the member as a patient just kept quiet and assumed he was misrepresenting himself...people are so honest nowadays...not! but honesty has to go both ways.
    Last edit by ArrowRN on Oct 8, '12
  3. by   aflanagan9
    Seems like the real issue here is the tired old problem that Nursing has an image problem since the dawn of time. The lay public have no real idea of what nurses do (on TV, the doctors do all the nursing tasks anyway). We talk about scope of practice, but 95% of patients don't know where the line starts for one kind of role, and ends at another. Sometimes we don't either. On top of that, the lines move from one department to another, between specialties, between facilities, between states, and that's just for registered nurses. Also, the majority of patients don't seem to care about rankings of qualifications - they usually assume that someone ("They") is overseeing all that important stuff so that appropriately-qualified people in scrubs are doing any given thing as part of their care.

    On my part, I would have to assume my tech had the best intentions. I generally try not to take offense (sometimes this does take effort) when I disagree with my coworkers: high dugeon only serves as a barrier to solve problems, and another problem I'll need help to solve is guaranteed to roll up on the next 5 minutes. And I can't blame anyone for wanting to shorthand a conversation loaded with excruciating technical & bureaucratic baggage. Having that conversation amongst ourselves is tricky enough, but ploughing though it with a patient while working and keeping all the balls in the air - no thanks.

    On the other hand, avoiding talk about this question just prolongs the problem...

    -at Meriwhen: LOVE your tagline quotes!
  4. by   PacoUSA
    I know there are some male nurses out there that have issues with being called a nurse and adopt what they think is a more masculine job title (aka registered medic) probably same thing with CNA and med tech ... they need to get over that or leave the profession altogether if the term "nurse" is too embarrasing for them to live with.
  5. by   JZ_RN
    A med tech is not a nurse, not even close. It is actually illegal to call yourself a nurse if you are not one. And I would have told the med tech that right after we left the room. It is not okay to say that a med tech is the same as a nurse. I don't tell people I'm "just the same as a doctor." Come on.
  6. by   tewdles
    If your family member felt that he misrepresented his role then they should reflect that on their survey.

    I have had the experience of working with med techs in ambulatory care who didn't seem to understand the difference between themselves and myself as an RN...some, in fact, were sort of beligerent about it. More than one of them would "allow" clients/patients to think they were nurses and I know that one regularly introduced herself as the "nurse". Given that we were working with migrant hispanic agricultural workers most of our patients probably had no idea.
  7. by   RN12PTL
    I worked as a tech before becoming an RN, and faced this issue many times too. Patients would often introduce me to family members as one of their nurses, and I felt personally obligated to correct them and let them know I was their nurse's aide. I know a lot of other techs who would inform their patients they were "one of the nurses/ or part of the nursing team".. I think it's just a gray line, unless the employee says "registered nurse/ RN", then it's not technically a misrepresentation, right? In my former state, the RN had to inform the patient they were the REGISTERED NURSe.. not just nurse so that it would clear up any confusion.
  8. by   nursel56
    He didn't call himself a nurse but he gave out incorrect information to the patient. I think the hospital has the right to expect their employees to answer correctly or find out for them if they don't know. A med tech is not the same thing as a nurse.
  9. by   CherylRNBSN
    Aargh, this reminds me a distant friend from the past, who would tell everyone, right in front of me, that she was a "teacher" when they asked what she did,where she was employed.

    This girl was a teacher's aid. NEVER went to college. She knew it, and I knew it, I'm not even a teacher, and it really got under my skin.

    I never called her on it, but boy, was it annoying.

    She was completely misrepresenting herself. And her education and her qualifications.

    I get OP's point. It's a little annoying. But I didn't feel it was worth mentioning. I just smirked.

    We should all make our PROFESSIONAL titles clear, PERIOD. That is in the pts interest, that's why we wear name tags.

    Not notpicking, just saying.

    There IS a difference, and I think, in my institution, the techs and CNA's are "professional" enough that they DON"T DO THAT. EVER. I LOVE THEM. They are great at what they do. I value them, and depend on them, and respect them.

    As another poster said, they would readily state "I need to get the nurse".

    But while we do some of the same things, we are not the SAME thing. Just like the teacher/aid business.

    Sigh. Both professions w some problems.

    Perhaps both dominated by WOMEN? And UNDERVALUED?
  10. by   BlueDevil,DNP
    He did not say he was a licensed "nurse," therefore did not actually misrepresent himself. What he said can be chalked up to a mischaracterization of his role. As a nurse, I understand why you don't like it, but as a rational person who has been an administrator, I know how they are going to see it: a nonsense BS complaint. In other words, you are wasting your time. If one wanted to have an impact, the teachable moment was when he misspoke. The moment has passed. Move on, let it go.
  11. by   Patti_RN
    A Med Tech is not a nurse, most med techs have at least a BSN, sometimes an MS and others even more education, so the person was being dishonest from the start. Med Tech is short for Medical Technologist (a four year degree) or sometimes Med Techs are Medical Technicians (which is a two-year degree, but is being phased out in most parts of the country--they are mostly helpers for the technologists). Med Techs are the ones who run chem panels, type and cross blood, and do tissue typing--plus a lot more. They are mostly behind the scenes, working in the labs. The person was probably a Patient Care Tech (a term for 'Nurse's Aide' in many regions).

    It may be surprising to nurses, but Med Techs are generally insulted when anyone mistakes them for nurses!
  12. by   BuckyBadgerRN
    Grrrrrrr. I'd have called him out and then made a call to HR after the fact. That is a HUGE pet peeve of mine, the clinic where I go pulls crap like that all the time: "Can I speak to Dr. William's nurse?" "Sure, hold on please", "Hi this is Cathy!" "Are you a nurse?" "I'm an MA" "so that's a no." Well, I'm Dr. WILLIAM'S nurse". No, you aren't!!! Grrrrrr

    Quote from Penguin67
    A family member was recently seen in an ER. One of her care providers introduced himself as a "med tech" and the family member asked "What does that mean?" and the response was " it is the same thing as a nurse". My family member went on to watch everything this person did while she was there, and saw vital signs, linen changes, positioning changes, paperwork, and things in the scope of a nurse assistant. This family member happened to know the difference, and we talked about this when she came home from the ER.

    Is there a way to handle this, as I know this post is not the first one to discuss unlicensed assistive personnel representing themselves as nurses. The family member asked a nurse about it, and she just smiled and said that there was a difference and they did really need the help of med techs. (Which is nice, but doesn't solve the issue of representing oneself as a nurse when in fact they are not.) Should she mention this in the patient comment survey that she will most likely receive or not? Thoughts?
    Last edit by Esme12 on Oct 9, '12
  13. by   BuckyBadgerRN
    Too busy? Really? And more people care about the difference than you might think.

    Quote from itsmejuli
    He was probably busy and didn't feel like explaining the difference between nurse and med tech. I think most people have no idea about the difference and don't really care.