"Why didn't you go to medical school?"

  1. Sorry for the provocative title

    I'm mostly curious what your responses are when a patient asks you:
    • "Why did you become an NP instead of a doctor?"
    • & "What's the difference between a NP and a MD?"

    During my clinical rotations (which are now COMPLETE!! Just waiting for that diploma), I've answered these questions ad nauseum to patients who were interested in my training. After giving a clever, premeditated answer that is both thorough and informative, it is still followed up by, "so you were an RN and now will be a nurse practitioner soon: are you going to go to medical school next?" & "what's the difference?" DOH!

    Maybe my response isn't as clear as I'd like. Or maybe I'm just fighting the good fight against misinformation of NPs and it's just going to take more time. Either way, I'd love to hear how you respond to these questions!
  2. Visit shannonFNP profile page

    About shannonFNP, MSN, NP

    Joined: Nov '06; Posts: 264; Likes: 129
    Family Nurse Practitioner; from US
    Specialty: Pain Management, RN experience was in ER


  3. by   NJprisonrn
    It really is odd how many people have no idea what an NP is. A lot of people say "Oh, so you're in nursing school." I tell them that I'm already an RN and am going to be a nurse practitioner. When they ask what's the difference, I tell them it's a bit like being a doctor, but with less schooling, less stress, and more time to talk with patients. I like the term midlevel provider when describing it to them. If they persist in telling me to go to medical school, I tell them that I choose NP because I like being a nurse, and that my student loans will be much more bearable than medical school ones. Most people can't argue with that.
  4. by   OfficerRNBSN
    I just tell people that NP school is shorter and cheaper. I like watching TV too much to be a doctor, lol.
  5. by   NPAlby
    When patients ask, I answer with "I had to work for a living."
    Kind of like when enlisted personnel are referred to as "sir" and they say "Im not an officer I work for a living!"
  6. by   Pachinko
    I explain the NP role to people by telling them it's midway between an RN and a doctor. When asked why I didn't go to med school, I tell them the truth: I got a late start in the healthcare field and don't want to spend so much time in school with what I have left.
  7. by   myelin
    I just say it's too expensive and takes too much time when I can do the same job as a NP... like being involved in research, clinical practice, and teaching. Nursing is much friendlier to those who are interested in having a life outside their career. Once I pay off my loans I'm hoping to only work 4 days a week. I have other interests.
  8. by   BostonFNP
    Eeek some if these answers make me shudder!

    Personally, I find very few people ask me. I think it is far more common of a student than a practicing NP. My answer: I chose a model that focuses not only on the disease but the individual's response to the disease.
  9. by   NPAlby
    Hey, it's my honest answer. Maybe if I came from a more wealthy, more educated family I would have gone to med school . As it was I knew I had to pay my own way through school and life. I think my patients appreciate my candor and honesty. Most of them are homeless and do not come from healthy family environments. I usually get a chuckle and a "oh really? wow!"
  10. by   Annaiya
    I would never use the term mid-level provider. I find it demeaning. A lot of these answers do not paint a strong image of our progression, but rather make it sound like a role for people who are lazy and cheap. I have never had a patient ask me why I didn't go to med school. Maybe my patients are just more used to NPs. But if your patient doesn't know what an NP is, then it's your opportunity to educate them and instill confidence in your knowledge and abilities.
  11. by   mcnacht
    I say I first became a naturopathic doctor, and then became a nurse practitioner to pay the bills.
  12. by   BlueDevil,DNP
    I have to agree with Annaiya, these are not great answers. They are rather demeaning to the profession. And please, please, please, for the love of all that is holy, STOP using the term "midlevel provider." It's offensive. Stop it.

    I think it is fine to discuss that NP education is shorter than MD education. It is. I would not phrase it as though you just couldn't be bothered to do the work- I wouldn't return to a provider that said something like that to me. It would make me wonder if staying abreast of the current literature/EBP was too much of a hassle as well.

    I recall being asked perhaps twice in 5 years why I didn't go to medical school, by people who thought they meant it a complementary way. I was asked that often "way back when" when I was a staff nurse. I don't take offense where none is intended as a general rule, lol.

    Every person has their own story. Ours is unusual, but that's because we chose the unbeaten path. We raised seven children, home schooled them and traveled the world with them- literally- for fifteen years. Our kids have been to every continent and seen all the wonders of the ancient and modern worlds, speak several languages each, at least passably. We sailed from Antigua up the Atlantic coast for 14 months. We lived on a dude ranch in Montana for a year, lived in a lighthouse for a while, lived in an RV and saw the entire continental United States in 3 years time. My oldest kids learned how to fly biplanes, every one of them knows how to scuba and snow ski. We had adventures some people go their whole lives only dreaming about. You can't do all of that and go to medical school, lol. And there is simply no way I would trade our shared experiences for a chance at medical school and residency, just no way.

    I wouldn't tell any of that to patients, they don't need to know my life story. Patients more often ask me if I like being a NP, and whether they ask me that or why I am not something else, I can say the same thing: I honestly love my job, and I don't know quite how the fates lead me to it, but I am so lucky and proud to be here that I don't question my luck, I just try to deserve it and do my best to honor my profession and take the best care that I know how of the patients who trust themselves to my care.

    And I swear on my kids' heads, I have said that exact thing (or something nearly exactly like it) hundreds of times in the past five years, and I mean it, truly.
  13. by   Glycerine82
    I just want to say that I always, always choose NP's over MD's for my own healthcare. I find NP's to be more thorough, knowledgeable (about the latest advances etc.) and I feel like I am listened to better. I had an NP tell me of a drug interaction that no other healthcare provider I have has an issue with....I thought it was awesome that he was so up to date on all of the latest information etc. Ok thats all. People are ignorant, If it were me I would probably reply with "Why didn't YOU".
    Last edit by Glycerine82 on Aug 6, '13
  14. by   nurseprnRN
    I love Laura Gasparis Vonfrolio's answer-- she was accepted to med school but she wanted to save lives, so she went to nursing school instead.

    I used to tell people who asked me why I didn't go to med school because I was so smart that I liked what nurses did with people more than what doctors did, and people need smart nurses too.