Why Not Become a Doctor?

This is the burning question that at least one of your loved ones or best friends will probably ask you and not just once, but many times over. You may even ask it of yourself. The answer, however, will be a personal one and one with many different twists and turns. The fact is that you want to be a nurse. A doctor is not a nurse. Just like a police officer is not a firefighter. You are comparing apples with oranges, despite the fact that they are both highly regarded professions in the health care industry.

Is It Better to Be a Doctor?

Those who choose medicine as a career do so because they want to help people, but more so because they want to be involved in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. They want to be part of the act of curing someone. Doctors have the advantage of having a longer term relationship with a patient than most nurses. Doctors will see the patient from the initial diagnosis through to the cure or through the course of long-term treatment. They receive their emotional rewards when the patient is cured or learns to cope with an illness and make the appropriate lifestyle changes.

The health care team is comprised of doctors, nurses, therapists, social workers, nursing assistants, pharmacists, and a whole ancillary of non-licensed personnel. Why not become a doctor? Because you want to be a nurse.

Nurses are a part of this process as well, except that they never diagnose. (In some instances, nurse practitioners who have been specifically trained to do so can diagnose illnesses in patients, but as a rule, nurses do not diagnose.) They collaborate with the physician and coordinate the scientific information about the disease with the patient's ability to cope, to understand, and to respond to the treatment. The nurse usually has a more limited experience with the patient according to where she practices. This might be a two- to four-day hospital stay and the nurse has a short time to participate in the care. Consequently, the nurse may not see the full results of her efforts, while the doctor will.

What Nurses Do

Nurses look at the patient as a whole and they make a nursing diagnosis with regard to the disease and what else is needed to help the patient cope and respond to the treatment. This includes lifestyle issues, nutrition, hygiene, as well as knowledge deficits. Armed with all this information, the nurse sets out to educate the patient about his illness, the treatment modalities necessary and the expected response. The nurse also helps the patient to understand any possible side effects and untoward signs and symptoms that should be reported to the M.D.

Nurses also work independently to provide case management, develop care standards, and improve the quality of patient care. Nurses also educate patients and family members in aspects of health and wellness, taking responsibility for the patients' own health, and promoting awareness of health care issues.

Physicians have little training in most of these areas. They aren't trained in the nursing process and they don't make nursing diagnoses. Many a nurse has gone on to become a doctor and they bring together the best of both worlds. However, in the course of treating patients, often their skills as nurses are minimized and even lost due to a physician's time restraints.

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