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

  1. 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!
    Joe V likes this.
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  3. 33 Comments so far...

  4. 2
    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.
    ShannonRN09 and Nspirit like this.
  5. 6
    I just tell people that NP school is shorter and cheaper. I like watching TV too much to be a doctor, lol.
  6. 0
    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!"
  7. 1
    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.
    malamud69 likes this.
  8. 3
    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.
    malamud69, NPAlby, and carachel2 like this.
  9. 7
    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.
    rninme, coast2coast, malamud69, and 4 others like this.
  10. 0
    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!"
  11. 4
    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.
  12. 1
    I say I first became a naturopathic doctor, and then became a nurse practitioner to pay the bills.
    NPAlby likes this.


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