What's In a Name
It still amazes me how much of the public doesn't know what a NP is, does,
or what it takes to become one. And what I find even more amazing is the
difficulty I have at times trying to describe what it is I am in school to
Not too long ago, as I was dropping my daughter off at daycare, one of
the staff members who knew I was attending school asked me what I was going to
school for. I told her I was working on my master's degree in nursing to become
a family nurse practitioner. She stared back at me perplexed for a moment, and
then asked me, "What is that?" I have to
admit, I was quite taken aback, because it had been so long since someone
didn't know what a nurse practitioner is. The area where I live seems to have
taken to the idea of employing NPs and PAs a little more slowly than other
areas, so there is a decent population that has never had the pleasure of being
seen by a NP or PA.
Most people respond to my description of NPs with, "Oh so you're like a
doctor," and when they ask how long it takes to become a NP and I tell them,
the typical statement is, "Oh honey, you could have almost been a doctor."
Those responses are frustrating, because when I hear them, I feel that I must
not have done a good enough job describing what a NP is and does.
I have no doubt that I could have become a physician, but I chose to be a
nurse. NPs do share some of the same job descriptions as physicians, but an NP's
approach to caring for the whole person is much different, and I think for the
most part, most people who have been seen by NPs can see the two professions as
distinct and complimentary.
Sometimes, I feel like starting a series of public services
announcements/commercials to educate the public about NPs. I have found even
those who see and like the care provided by NPs do not always know what an NP
is, or what kind of education they have.