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New to Nursing

Doctors Are Not Nurses

Published May 23, 2014 11:47 AM by Mia Ross

Hey, New Grads, you’ve just finished nursing school!  This leads me to believe that you are a very intelligent, competent person.  And I’m sure you’ve learned so much!  You know about pharmacology, physiology, nursing theory and patient care.  Did anyone explain to you, though, that nurses are not doctors?  Luckily if you hadn’t realized this during your years of schooling, Dr. Jauhar’s recent op-ed in the New York Times is there to remind you:

Dr. Jauhar graciously volunteered his time to write this thoughtful piece for anyone out there who thought nursing and medical school is synonymous.  Yikes.  There have already been plenty of rebuttals to his (weak) argument.  There are almost 900 comments on this piece, which leads me to believe that Dr. Jauhar's opinion was neither shared nor appreciated by the majority.  I don’t feel the need to showcase my own discord, but I did want to write a quick note to all new nurses out there.

It is so important you realize that doctors are not nurses (thank goodness!).  Your job is so important.  You will impact many patients’ lives no matter what nursing route you take.  This will always be your priority, so please don’t waste your time comparing yourself to other providers.  Instead, embrace the healthcare team atmosphere.  Appreciate other professional’s skills and expertise.  Appreciate your own contributions.  Encourage mutual respect.  And never, ever be afraid to stick up for your profession, your patients or yourself. 


While NPs are an important part of our healthcare system and are extremely valuable in patient care in light of the primary care physician shortage, they are never to be thought of or used as a substitute or replacement for a licensed physician.  The difference in education as well as the clinical practicum between a NP and an MD or a DO is like night and day.  I know there are some who may believe that those who attain licensure as a NP will have reached an almost doctor-like state but that type of thinking is wishful and could be outright dangerous to patients.

Peter DiGiuseppe, B.A., RN


Peter Digiuseppe June 30, 2014 5:03 PM

Sorry, Mia, but your position does not pass for a bone fide objection to Dr. Jauhar article.  I say that as a nurse.  You left out that he is speaking only of Nurse Practitioners and only as they relate to autonomous care.  I think he addresses an issue that many of us may not have known about.  You didn't represent his concern accurately.  He is talking about continuing a team approach.  We need to stop throwing stones and be a team!

Karen Silvestro June 7, 2014 6:13 PM

That's why I chose nursing - I don't want to be a doctor. I noticed the research cited was from 1999 - 15 years ago. That's ancient in terms of evidence. I dare say those figures have changed considerably. I don't want to waste time comparing who knows more than who. Each of us has valuable knowledge and skills and we must collaborate to provide the best healthcare to all patients.

Brenda Munson, Adult Health - Assistant Professor June 5, 2014 10:54 AM
Cleveland GA

I agree that it is so important that nurses should realize our job is important and that nurses should embrace the team atmosphere. It is important for all health care providers to acknowledge each others' importance to quality patient centered care. No hospital provider takes care of the patient in a vacuum. It takes a team approach to insure that nothing is overlooked. The doctor does not necessarily always drive care. According to the metaphorical conductorless orchestra model of health care (used in my dissertation research), each provider uses his/her stock-of-knowledge (takes the lead) in the performance of the patient care symphony according to the patient's needs.

Gwendolyn Lancaster, EdD, RN, CCRN June 4, 2014 9:34 PM
New York NY

As dismal as the author's attitude is, he does have a valid point. I have met many high school kids who plan to become NPs because they would like to be doctors but the NP track is faster. They have been convinced by the rhetoric coming from folks like our current President that NPs and MDs really are interchangeable. %0d%0a%0d%0aRather than writing snide articles in publications read only by nurses, we might do well to write a good response for the original journal to print, citing ways in which the two roles are different, and explaining the value of the nursing perspective.

Linda Benskin June 4, 2014 4:45 PM

Great response to this ridiculous article! I would add to the new grad and nurses alike, just because a nurse takes another position, maybe away from the bedside, it doesn't negate or lessen the nurse still at the bedside! If no one stays at the bedside, who will care for our patients. Well, said, especially about comparing - everyone's role is important. Thanks for sharing! ~

May 23, 2014 12:31 PM

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