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It's RN, Not MD.

Nurses Article   (24,747 Views 26 Replies 937 Words)
by steven007 steven007 (Member)

7 Articles; 12,612 Profile Views; 116 Posts

This article addresses the common comparison of a nurse to a doctor.

It's RN, Not MD.

As a student nurse I have been quite bipolar. Going through phases of loving nursing and phases of hating nursing. I have come to understand that this is a basic part of nursing. You either accept it or get out. One will have times of euphoria and one will have times leaning towards wanting to kill oneself.

I have come to retract much of my prior ideas and beliefs of nurses and nursing. I used to have a really negative view of nursing as a profession and though I have not totally shifted to a positive view, I have greatly embraced nursing as a profession and as a calling. Furthermore, I have come to greatly respect the body of knowledge that is entrusted on the "ideal nurse." But one particular issue I have, is the lack of awareness and understanding of this knowledge, both on the part of the public and on the part of the nurse herself.

Let's start with the knowledge itself. I am in nursing school and I hear all to well students comparing themselves and other nurses to doctors. I absolutely hate this. Any student or nurse who feels the need to compare themselves to a doctor does not understand the profession. An RN is an RN. We are called RN's as apposed to MDs for a reason. Because we do a DIFFERENT JOB! By no means is an RN and MD.

All too much I hear students saying "they expect us to be doctors." This drives me nuts. This saying is completely derived from laziness as well as a lack of motivation and respect for the nursing profession. This statement honestly makes me so furious! Knowing your anatomy and physiology, basic principals of immunology and microbiology and histopathology constitutes a well versed health care professional, but by no means does it constitute a physician.

Whenever a peer of mine tells me that they expect them to be a doctor, I just say "So you know the medical-school curriculum enough to compare it to the nursing school curriculum?" People come into nursing thinking that it's a quick way to making money and financial security, not even giving thought to what a nurse does or what a nurse is. Then, when they're expected to memorize the difference between rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus they complain that they are being trained as doctors! Plain laziness if you ask me.

It is clearly taught to us, in numerous classes, the scope of practice of a nurse and what a nurse can and cannot do. Furthermore, the duties and responsibilities of a nurse is clearly defined as well as the duties and responsibilities of an MD.

Another saying I hear a lot is "the material is too hard! I'm a nurse, not a doctor." Yes, the material is heavy. No, it's not the same as you learn in medical school. Stop comparing.

A major problems in nursing arise when nurses compare themselves when there's nothing to compare themselves to. Nurses compare themselves to physicians and end up feeling inferior, inadequate and resentful towards other health care professionals. It's like comparing a computer to a car. There is some minor overlap (the computer that controls the car) but for the most part they are separate, autonomous entities.

So what about this knowledge, why do nurses need to know it? Well, for one they can act as primary or secondary health care providers. They are available in outpatient, inpatient, and community settings. Most of the time, the nurse is the initial health care professional to conduct an assessment on the patient. It is this reason why a nurse needs to have a strong knowledge of anatomy, physiology and pathology, to be able to identify serious conditions, what is wrong with the individual and what kind of immediate interventions are needed.

Furthermore, nurses have to be able to council patients, advise them on what to do and be able to assist them in disease management and treatment. How is a nurse going to do this without knowledge of the disease process and treatment?

Nurses are expected to have strong science backgrounds. In fact, the ability of a nurse to assess, diagnose, manage and treat diseases have been well recognized across North America with the implementation of programs like Primary/Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Doctor of Nursing practice and PhD in Clinical management which all focus on heavy medical diagnoses and treatment.

So what I hope to articulate from all this is nurses are not doctors. They have their own, well defined body of knowledge as well as their own, well defined responsibilities. Nurses that feel the need to compare themselves to doctors need to understand their own profession. They need to have a better insight on what makes a nurse a nurse and what purpose a nurse serves in the grand scheme of things.

I will leave you with something interesting to ponder. Why is a patient admitted to a hospital? To formulate a diagnosis? Well, no. A doctor just needs the patient's symptoms and blood and can do the rest in a lab or office while the patient waits at home. People are admitted to the hospital because they are unstable and thus, they need nurses AND doctors. Now the thing to ponder, what happens when you take nurses out of the equation? Would a hospital be the same? Think about it.

Steven, BSN, MSN, RN

7 Articles; 12,612 Profile Views; 116 Posts

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8 Posts; 713 Profile Views

Interesting article! So glad to see a student defending a strong science background. I'm pre-nursing and can't wait for Microbiology and A&P this fall. I'm wondering about your statement

All too much I hear students saying “they expect us to be doctors.”

Who is it that students think put pressure on them this way? Professors? Patients? Chairs of Nursing devising the curriculum?

This article has interesting and provocative ideas; I just wish it had seen an editor for clarity, grammar, and style. By the way, I totally volunteer for that position, should it open up on allnurses. :D

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highlandlass1592 has 13 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care.

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Contact Brian. :-)

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7 Articles; 116 Posts; 12,612 Profile Views

Thanks =).

And you're right! I usually like to edit my material thoroughly but this was a spontaneous idea that just popped into my head and so I kind of rushed it. :-).

Good luck with your schooling! =D

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44 Posts; 1,848 Profile Views

Great article. I'm a pre-nursing student and feel that nurses need to be knowledgeable in many areas of the medical field, and to underestimate what is expected of you as a nursing student will only set you up for some great let downs (and obstacles) as you study your profession. Yes, RNs are not MDs, but we play a critical role in a patient's care just as much as doctors. In fact, we are the patient's front line defense and are responsible for ensuring that they receive the best care possible by becoming the patient's advocate and voice when they are unable to do so, and in order to achieve this standard it is imperative to have extensive knowledge that goes beyond the preconceived notions one may have about being a nurse. Any nursing student who does not comprehend the depth of what a nurse entails needs to reassess why they decided to go into the nursing profession. There is much to be learned, and it goes far beyond the textbooks!

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RNAV8R has 20+ years experience and specializes in CVICU,PICU,Transport.

9 Posts; 1,005 Profile Views

Excellent article.We as nurses have to realize that the nursing profession is constantly evolving.

As medicine evolves, so does the nursing profession.Nursing has gone from nurses just making beds

and emptying bedpans to what it is today and hopefully down the road, we will look at what the duties

we performed today and laugh.

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johndz specializes in Med Surg Baby!.

15 Posts; 1,337 Profile Views

Great article, especially for some one still in the role of student nurse (if you have graduated, I apologize), if you can remember this on a daily basis and continue to have pride in your profession, then you should do great, thanks for writing this. I'm sharing this with my friends on facebook.

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16 Posts; 787 Profile Views

I agree with you entirely! I have also heard students complain that the classes are too hard. They say the same thing. I am sure they would change their minds once they are actually taking care of the patients and realize that they know NOTHING!!!!

I actually think that we should be taught more in nursing schools. more about different diseases and how to handle such cases. I once went to a school where they taught so little because they wanted the students to pass. It was a private school and I was disappointed. I actually plan on taking extra classes outside my pre-reqs and nursing courses to know more. Pathophysiology was a class I took at that school but I plan to retake it at another school because I actually want to know it.

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7 Articles; 116 Posts; 12,612 Profile Views

I agree. I bought the current medical diagnosis and treatment book and as we go through each system in my pathology class, i not only read the pathology book but i read the system outo f the current medical diagnosis book. It takes a lot of discipline because it is a medical school textbook, but because of it I know SO MUCH more and am able to follow in the class so much more smoothly.

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SharonH, RN has 20 years experience and specializes in Med/Surg, Geriatrics.

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Interesting article. May I add another point of view?

I don't think the issue is that student nurses are comparing themselves to physicians at all or they feel resentful or inferior. I think as SWingate does is that the reason many of them make that statement is quite the opposite. Many students enter nursing thinking it is medicine lite. They believe that their job will be passing pills and taking people to the bathroom and all the "heavy lifting" (intellectually speaking) is done by others, namely physicians. When they finally get into nursing and they learn that they in fact ARE expected to have a certain knowledge base, responsibility, accountability, etc they are surprised and unprepared. It is nothing compared to that of a physician of course but nonetheless, you are not just mindless pill pushers. Yes you do have to think. Thus the belief that people are trying to make them into doctors. It's discouraging but they will learn.

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Throughout nursing school, I too heard numerous people complaining about the content and the expectation to know so much of the pathophsyiology part of nursing. I too couldn't understand for the life of me why these people wanted to become a nurse in the first place, or what they thought a nurse was.

It's disheartening if you think about it because there are people out there who squeeked by and survived nursing school and probably still couldn't tell you what the function of say, the liver is - let alone it's many functions!

Then there's the group of people who had good enough grades to get into nursing and just did it simply for the money. I tell you what, if your HEART is not in it, it's going to be a very rough & miserable road for you. Nursing involves so much more than just passing MEDS!

I have heard people say that they can't believe the amount of responsibility put upon them. Yea. That's basically nursing in a nutshell. YOU are responsible. YOU are the one at the patient's bedside, not the Doctors. YOU are the one managing every aspect of their care from test prep-diet orders-meds-teaching-discharge planning-follow up care- EVERYTHING. You ARE the person who SHOULD know their A&P very well because you are the one assessing your patient for changes, and knowing when those changes require a call to the Doctor. YOU are responsible if something is missed and causes a poor outcome.

There have been times in my career when I have hid in the bathroom to cry after dealing with something particularly crazy, and contemplated to myself why I chose to do this. And other times when I hear from a patient that I've helped them in some way and when I hear that I KNOW I'm where I should be.

Anyone out there who believes nursing is some piece of cake, easy way to make money, you are sadly mistaken. You will physically and emotionally earn every last dime you make. It is not a career that anyone should just "fall into" because someone told them it was a good idea. I recommend to everyone considering nursing to get your CNA first and work in a hospital (not a nursing home, or assisted living or any of that) so you can get a better idea of what nursing is truly like before you go invest your time and money into something you may hate.

I personally LOVE nursing even though there are days when I would love to walk out and never come back. The days when you save a patient's life, ease their pain, and or just do something small that completely changes their experience for the better - those are the days you keep going back for.

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