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Angeljho Angeljho (Member)

What's a Nurse Practitioner?!

NP   (1,167 Views 15 Comments)
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Lol I get this ALL the time. I take an uber to work and sometimes I can get chatty which often leads to "What do you do for work?" Then when I tell them I'm a nurse practitioner, I usually get asked "What's that?" or a get a response like "My sister is a nurse. We need more of you guys."

Anyone else experience this with the public on a regular basis?

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I sort of hate answering this question. It's also silly how oblivious the general population is as to what we are and do. I was getting a massage the other day, the girl asked me what I did, and I told her I'm an NP. Her follow up was she asked me if I needed an associates degree to become an NP, and what I would need to do to become an RN.

The correct response along the lines of "a nurse practitioner is a registered nurse that has additional education of at least a Master's Degree, is tested and licensed in a specialty, and is trained to assess patient needs, order and interpret diagnostic and laboratory tests, diagnose/treat illness and disease, prescribe medication and formulate treatment plans" takes forever to actually say, and for most people in the general population, they have no clue what you just told them.

If you look up what is an NP on the AANP website, you find a page with multiple drop down menus that still doesn't really answer the question succinctly.

A lot of people answer "it's like a doctor, and can treat patients, but doesn't have as much education". This is basically true, but it is demeaning to our own education, and discounts the experience most of us have prior to becoming APRN's. It also might make the patient feel like they're getting second rate care when no research suggests that.

I work in New Mexico, which is independent practice, in a hospitalist group that has an even number of NP's and physicians. The only difference between us in the job is the physicians make more. That's it. We admit our patients under our name, treat them through the course of their stay, and discharge them without a single physician seeing them outside of maybe the ED (but they're also half NP), or if they needed a consultant. We all see an equal number of patients and admissions are round robin so there is no acuity cherry picking. Go figure, the NP length of stay and readmission rate is significantly lower than the physicians in our group, and has been since the program inception over a year ago.

So when I try to answer the question thoughtfully, I say "an NP is an RN with more education that can prescribe medications and treats sick people". Once patients hear that you can prescribe they themselves make the comment "oh like a doctor", and if they care to know any further, you can go into more specifics.

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I also get, "So, are you going to finish school and become a doctor?".

*bangs head against wall*

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I also get, "So, are you going to finish school and become a doctor?".

*bangs head against wall*

What's worse is when your own family drops that bomb. Or more hilariously when my mom said recently that a doctor that lives nearby told here I should go back and get my CRNA. Lol

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I think to the non-medical world, "licensed PRACTICAL nurse" and "nurse PRACTITIONER" are similar. Hence, oh, are you going to go further and become a real nurse (RN)?

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It is surprising how many people don't know what NPs are. How about "I'm an advanced practice nurse". And if they ask further.... "I am licensed to do things beyond the scope of bachelors prepared nurses, such as diagnosing and prescribing for patients". And if they are ask... "It requires either a Master's or Doctoral degree followed by credentialing through testing."

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Maybe 2/3 of people know what the role is, but 1/3 do not. Some of the 2/3 have very inaccurate ideas, like psychologists that have "Dr" in front of their name are my supervisors. No.

Staff that should know better refer to me as "the doctor".

I battle on.

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LOL! Imagine what I get as a CNM...many people assume I am essentially a witch. I will say, the number of people who respond to my answer with, "Oh I (or my friend, or neighbor, or sister) used a midwife" is growing by the day, which is heartening. We still have a long way to go! It does make for interesting conversations though, particularly with people who literally didn't know midwives existed after the year 1900 or so.

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I had a floor nurse ask me if I was going to go on to become a "doctor" or a "PHYSICIAN'S ASSISTANT" at some point. I was dumbfounded.

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LOL! Imagine what I get as a CNM...many people assume I am essentially a witch. I will say, the number of people who respond to my answer with, "Oh I (or my friend, or neighbor, or sister) used a midwife" is growing by the day, which is heartening. We still have a long way to go! It does make for interesting conversations though, particularly with people who literally didn't know midwives existed after the year 1900 or so.

I definitely believe that. When you look at states that utilize midwives more and infant mortalitity rates, you often find states with more midwife utilization have lower infant mortality rates.

I work in New Mexico which has a strong midwife culture, and despite being one of the poorest states with poor access, it's still in the top 15 nationally in infant mortality and better than the national average by a good margin largely in part to our midwife culture.

When I came from Texas across the border, not a single hospital there had midwives, and go figure, two of the local hospitals led the nation in c-section rate.

Utilization is much higher in European countries, and it's no wonder they blow us out of the water in infant mortality rates.

Telling patients midwives lead to better outcomes and fewer c-sections helps remedy the fears, but it's definitely true that the term for some conjures up an old lady witch doctor delivering babies in a bath tub.

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I definitely believe that. When you look at states that utilize midwives more and infant mortalitity rates, you often find states with more midwife utilization have lower infant mortality rates.

I work in New Mexico which has a strong midwife culture, and despite being one of the poorest states with poor access, it's still in the top 15 nationally in infant mortality and better than the national average by a good margin largely in part to our midwife culture.

When I came from Texas across the border, not a single hospital there had midwives, and go figure, two of the local hospitals led the nation in c-section rate.

Utilization is much higher in European countries, and it's no wonder they blow us out of the water in infant mortality rates.

Telling patients midwives lead to better outcomes and fewer c-sections helps remedy the fears, but it's definitely true that the term for some conjures up an old lady witch doctor delivering babies in a bath tub.

Preach, friend! New Mexico is essentially midwife mecca. We're getting there, slowly but surely. Our healthcare system literally cannot sustain the cost of how we manage OB in the U.S. much longer, and our outcomes are horrific enough that I think the tides are turning more towards midwife-led care.

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The question I always get is: "But what's the difference between an NP and PA??" Then I explain (and keep it brief), and then they always ask again at a later date (aka my mother-in-law. OMG. I think she's asked me 3 times).

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