My very first introduction to nurse practitioners was when I was really little. I was frequently sick (more like -- I had anxiety and my stomach always hurt) which meant I was routinely brought to the pediatricians office. I'm not sure why, but I hated my pediatrician. I hated doctors. I would cry. My mom would tell me "we don't have to see the doctor, we can see the nurse practitioner. She's really nice." So I would agree.
And she was really nice. I brought my doll with me. She sat down and listened to my doll's heartbeat and let me listen with her stethoscope. She talked to my doll and made me feel safe. The doctor never did this with me.
Not saying all doctors don't have good bedside manner (because there are also badass doctors and some nurse practitioners certainly suck at people skills)..but overall, there's something extra badass about nurse practitioners.
What's the major difference between the two? Aren't doctors (MDs + DOs) totally better because they have more years of training?
Nurses are trained holistically. We utilize a model that understands a person as more complex than a disease process or set of symptoms (i.e. the "medical model").
We see you as people.
We view caring for you as both an art and a science.
Although I did not go to medical school and went to nursing/nurse practitioner school.. I still did earn a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) after completing about 11 years of college total.
My education was not solely focused on medical pathologies and symptoms. Rather, it was much more focused to understand providing holistic care, health disparities, social situations in which a patient comes from and how that impacts them, general health assessment, psychology, and also diagnostics and prescribing exclusively within psychiatry.
Our education really focuses on patient communication. As nurses, we spend significantly more quality time with patients than the physicians do -- and therefore bedside manner and empathy becomes a more natural skill.
Many NPs can better understand your situation because we are also ordinary people from ordinary upbringings.
Nursing is an accessible and obtainable career to begin in. You can start in community college and work your way up. For medical doctors, a large majority do come from the top income brackets with more than half reporting their family annual income is greater than $100,000. Only about 6% come from low socioeconomic backgrounds.
Medical school is not only extremely competitive, but there are multiple financial barriers in place that reduce the ability for people who are not wealthy to apply. Medical school can cost thousands encompassing travel fees for interviews, preparation for exams, and application fees. And medical school is expensive.
Becoming a doctor may feel like a distant dream for many people who do not grow up in families of doctors or other professionals.
I am open about the fact that I did start in community college, and I struggled immensely over my college career because I didn't have financial support from an upper class family. I spent a lot of time thinking I wasn't good enough to be a nurse.
I literally worked from the bottom - minimum wage as a cleaning lady - up to here. I have experienced a path that many people in upper income brackets will never know, and could never relate to.
More than likely, I won't say some insensitive nonsense to you because I came from a sheltered rich background.
I am no better than you.
This is a story common for many NPs.
Sometimes as nurse practitioners, we even come from other career paths. Because RN+NP school have fewer barriers to enrollment, it becomes a path that people pursue even later in life for a career change.
NPs focus more on building relationships and partnerships with patients.
Typically nurse practitioners really do focus on the patient relationship, because sometimes that can be extremely healing. Some studies note that nurse practitioners do spend more time with patients. Heath outcomes are equivalent to that of physicians, and patient satisfaction rates are greater.
Having a relationship with your provider is huge. When you walk in, do not feel heard, and do not feel like the person remembers you -- nevermind cares about you, how can you heal?
We are more inclined to do a holistic assessment, to understand your social life, development, trauma history, nutrition, environment and other factors which do affect you.
Plus I want to meet your dog.
How many doctors have wanted to meet your dog?
Well.. maybe that's just me, actually..not an NP thing..but we can pretend it is.
We are cheaper and still provide above average care (even though places pay us significantly less).
Let me be transparent. I was the highest biller at my last job and my patients loved me. I made the company a ton of money. Yet the doctor seeing 5 patients tops per day and working minimal hours was making a salary that was at least triple mine. That's just how it works based on status. The healthcare industry definitely does not let NPs get much of an ego.
Insurance companies also reimburse us less than they reimburse physicians.
Our prices are typically significantly lower. Check my private pay fees and then compare them to psychiatrists in the local area. I guarantee that mine are significantly lower.
To be honest, I want to make a living and pay my bills but at the end of the day, I'm not doing this job for a paycheck or because my parents wanted me to be a nurse practitioner. I'm doing this job because I want to help, and make help accessible.
As far as quality of care, patients with nurse practitioners have been found to have fewer hospitalizations, fewer readmissions to the hospital, fewer ER visits and better satisfactions than those who see physicians.
We love collaboration.
I've learned quickly as a nurse that collaboration is everything. I want to be in contact with the therapist, the other doctors, specialists, providers, everything. I have learned that teamwork is everything -- and I place myself within the team (next to you), not necessarily the a leader or the all-knowing one.
Let's be honest. You know you best. Better than me, better than a physician, better than anyone else. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
Collaboration with you as a partner within your care is the most important thing.
To celebrate nurses week, let's just agree that nurse practitioners are pretty badass.
PS -- this isn't to say that NPs are better than doctors. We are very much different. I hate that comparison game. At the end of the day, it's about finding a provider (MD, DO, PA, NP) who cares well for you, understands you and who you trust.