Monday, March 24, 2014

Not a physician, not a nurse...what?

APRN Advanced Practice Registered Nurse
ACNPC Acute Care Nurse Practitioner-Certified
CCNS Certified Clinical Nurse Specialist
CEN Certified Emergency Nurse 
Are you following the pattern?  I could go on...
These are examples of just some of the many certifications for nurses in specialized areas of care. And please excuse the underlying snarky tone as I am not feeling so "happy" after this past Certified Nurse Day.

Disclaimer: I am very proud to be a nurse and promote clinical excellence through certification - this is not a swipe at certification  or certified nurses!

So let me set the scene. I primarily work as an ACNP specifically as a Hospitalist and part time as a CNS. I also work as nursing faculty at a local university. During this past certified nurses day a unit clerk asked in general to anyone in earshot is it CNA day? (meaning certified nursing assistants day)  I spoke up and said no, it's certified nurses day - a day to recognize nurses that have obtained specialty certification, I gave him examples of my certifications and the clerk pointed to a list on a wall and said I was not on the list and finished with "well you're a doctor". "Umm, well actually I'm not. I did not go to medical school. Well you're not a nurse anymore," was the reply. Wow! I was not prepared for that. As it turned out this person was not alone in this perception.

Interestingly, I am no longer considered part of the nursing staff but not "part" of the medical staff. I have to abide by the medical staff by laws. I am not allowed to eat meals in the medical staff lounge or get free meals in the cafeteria. I am part of the "Allied Health Staff" which includes NPs, PAs, CNRAs,  & CMWs; we all pay dues. But we have no leadership. No meetings. No organization. No lounge. And we are not welcome at either nursing meetings or medical staff meetings.

So if I'm not physician and not a nurse, what am I? I know that I am not the only nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist that has been experienced something similar? Please don't get me wrong, I have a great working relationship with most of the medical and nursing staff members and I love my both of APRN positions. And most of all I LOVE being a nurse.

I continue to educate the staff on my evolving roles (I started out as a staff nurse and worked my way through school and various positions).  And to either our determent or benefit, I think we [nurses] will continue to educate others on what we do at every level as we continue to diversify our roles in healthcare.

I know I am not a physician. I do not pretend to be. I am an acute care NURSE practitioner and clinical NURSE specialist and I believe that I offer my patients something my physician counterparts do not. I am proud of my roots and my education and experience...and most of all my certifications. All of them!


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  3. Love this and so true. I am an ACNPC-AG, CCRN, CEN and practice on the intensivist service. Thankfully we are allowed to eat in the doctors lounge but I too have struggled with "not a nurse, not a doctor" role.