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Medical Resident Balks After Nurse Practitioner Friend Claims She ‘Can Do Anything A Doctor Can’


How many times have you been to see a doctor or you go to a hospital and just bombarded by people in scrubs?

You don’t know who anyone is.

It can be daunting.

It’s important to be exact.

Case in point…

Redditor Lazy-Taste1882 wanted to discuss her experience and get some feedback. So naturally, she came to visit the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit.

She asked:

“AITA for telling a friend’s gf that she’s not a doctor and that presenting herself as one is misleading?”

The Original Poster (OP) explained:

“I (28 F[emale]) am a radiology resident.”

“The other day we were hanging out with friends and one of them, let’s call him Jason, brought his new girlfriend, Alice.”

“So Jason asks me to repeat a story from work that I had told him earlier that week, for everyone to listen.”

“Alice interrupted me directly and exclaimed that we are colleagues and she could relate to my story so much being a doctor herself.”

“I thought great, it’s cool to meet new people who can relate to the hardships of medicine so I asked her if she’s a resident or an attending (she’s a little older).”

“She then said she is a dermatologist, so I assumed she meant a dermatology attending.”

‘The conversation continued and I eventually found out that she’s not a physician but a nurse practitioner (N[urse] P[racticioner]) working at a dermatologist’s office.”

“For those of you who don’t know, NPs have the right to practice independently in some states, meaning without the direct supervision of a physician.”

“If you don’t work in healthcare you probably don’t know the situation but let’s say that’s not a good idea.”

“Limited knowledge and education leads to a lot of mistakes and lowers the quality of care.”

“Obviously that’s not a universal statement, I love the NPs I work with but if you know you know.”

“So I tell her ‘then you’re a dermatology NP, not an attending dermatologist’ and she got offended.”

“Began saying that she can do anything a doctor can and sometimes even better.”

“I said I don’t doubt your abilities but it’s misleading to present yourself as a physician, especially to patients who don’t know any better.”

“She called me an elitist and left the bar.”

“Jason called me the next day and asked me to apologize to Alice for offending her profession.”

“As I said I have nothing against NPs but calling yourself a physician and claiming you have the exact same knowledge, if not more, is incredibly misleading.”

“So AITA?”

Redditors shared their thoughts on this matter and weighed some options to the question AITA?:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Many Redditors declared our OP was NOT the A**hole.

It’s a tricky situation.

Let’s hear some thoughts…

“NTA at all. I work in healthcare and agree with you 100%.”  ~ BlueOctopotato

“NTA. I’ve heard so many horror stories of nurses/NPs who think very highly of themselves even thinking they know more than physicians.” ~ CMDR_KingErvin

“Like. There are things nurses can do that doctors can’t.”

“But it’s not in terms of treatment or diagnosis.”

“Or they’ll pick up on things with inpatient scenarios due to spending more time with the patient.”

“But they shouldn’t be ordering every test or assuming they are the same when doctors do have more knowledge than nurses because they literally specialized in their chosen area.”

“They can advise a doctor of what they’ve seen with the patient.”

“But they shouldn’t be assuming they can just do the entire job of the doctor.” ~ meliocoilean

“I went to a NP that was attached to a physician’s office.”

“And I loved her, but she’d been in the field for a long time and is now retired.”

‘She absolutely deferred to a specialist or another physician if she felt there was a problem beyond essentially basic family general practice care.”

“She’s how I found my OB-GYN.”

“She was very concerned over my lack of menstruation and didn’t feel confident enough/sure enough to want to throw anything at it, so she referred me.”  ~ pillowcrates

“This is exactly what an experienced and skilled NP is invaluable for – assessing a situation and identifying the best resources to solve it.”

“They lack the knowledge and qualifications to make diagnoses, but their lack of specialization coupled with significant experience means they can be incredibly good at broad diagnoses and directing patients to the right care quickly.”

“For anyone who’s navigated healthcare somewhat often you’ll know that just finding the right doctor to help you can be a challenge.”

“So having someone to get you right to that person is priceless.”

“It’s also how I judge nurses I meet.”

“If their recommendation when somebody brings up something medical is ‘You should go see an X’ or ‘Talk to your doctor about having your Y checked’ then I trust them because they trust doctors.”

“If they give any kind of advice beyond taking O[ver] T[he] C[ounter] meds per the instructions on the bottle I immediately distrust them though.”

“Because I know legally they’re not qualified or supposed to do that.” ~ Urbanscuba

OP added some deets…

“I didn’t call her out in front of everyone.”

“It was more of a conversation between me and her.”

“I doubt the others were listening as they were engaging in the own conversations.”

And some of y’all calling me sexist and then assuming I’m a man because I’m a physician.”

“I’m a woman, as stated at the beginning of my post.”

Reddit had more thoughts…

“I like when my doctor’s have an NP that can prescribe, makes the process much easier.”

“And as any American WITH or without insurance knows, getting to see your actual doctor can take months for an appointment and unfortunately ailments to our bodies frequently respect this predicament.”

“NPs are a great stop gap measure.”

“However, say the time at 33, I find myself breaking out into shingles and calling the doctors office, the NP looks at chart and says, you are too young, not shingles.”

“I said well I’m coming in and you can tell it to my face.”

“Face = rapidly growing blisters by the minute.”

“Long story short, of course it was shingles, the actual doctor immediately recognized it and prescribed treatment.”

“We need more non-emergency care and NP and pharmacy level care options in America but hopefully staffed with people humble enough to when to escalate things.”

“And when it comes to medical care, best to error on the side of caution.”

“OP was just taking one for team society.”

“Friends might think it was a jerk move but no doubt future patients will appreciate that the NP was served a taste of humble pie.” ~ Wait_joey_jojo

“Yes. This.”

“I had a fantastic NP who stepped in when she heard doctors (I believe residents) were giving me chemo for ‘ulcerative colitis.'”

“She was like, you only did a CT scan, do an endoscopy do confirm.”

“Turns out I only had normal colitis, which I absolutely 1000% did NOT need chemo for as it’s not an autoimmune disease.”

“Then I had an NP who prescribed me an antibiotic that had severe interactions with the ephedrine the hospital gave me.”

“Luckily a pharmacist caught the error.”

“It’s impossible to judge them on a wide scale but there’s too many that seem to not understand drugs, in my opinion.”

“One of them prescribed me both Cymbalta and Gabapentin (they do the same thing).”

“My only problem with NPs has been wonky prescriptions.”

“I don’t know why it is that way.”  ~ meladey

“ESH. She’s the one demeaning her profession by calling herself a doctor.”

“If NP’s are so great (and they are) then there’s no reason to lie.”

“Here’s where you’re the a**hole too: as a radiology resident, what do you really know about NP-led practices?”

“More crucially, have you reviewed the evidence?”

“Have you seen the evidence about pigeons reading mammograms for that matter?”

“It was 100% irrelevant to your story and the fact that you included this glib piece of elitist editorialism betrays a kind of crappy attitude.”

“I’m a doctor for full disclosure.”

“Too many doctors are threatened by the knowledge and observations of nurses.”

“Patients die because of that attitude.””  ~ Hoistedonyrownpetard

OP came back once more…

“Thank y’all for your comments.”

“You all are right, I do sound condescending and bitter.”

“I have had a **it ton of bad experiences of patient mismanagement from midlevel providers and I’m just tired.”

“No hate to NPs, y’all are a valuable part of healthcare.”

Reddit continued…

“NTA. Also in healthcare, and the types of ‘medical providers’ has vastly increased in the last couple of decades, and the various titles can be confusing for many patients.”

“There is a role for everyone on the healthcare team, but it’s important not to misrepresent yourself to patients and their families.”

“And especially not to patients of lower health literacy, limited English proficiency, etc, who are often led to believe that anyone with a white coat is a physician.”

“Nothing wrong with having an NP in your office.”

“But when scheduling appointments the patient should be made aware of who they will be seeing that day.”

“And when meeting a patient for the first time one’s role should be clearly conveyed.”

“Even when our chief residents who are just months away from graduation introduce themselves to patients.”

“They note that they’re a resident physician, and that the final evaluation and plan will be made with their attending physician.”  ~ DolmaSmuggler

Well OP, sounds like Reddit is primarily on your side.

When it comes to healthcare, everyone should be really specific.

People’s lives hang in the balance.