Doctors Getting Nursing Degrees to Stay Competitive

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BOSTON, MA – Nurse Shannon Wilkens on floor 4 West thought she saw someone she knew in scrubs walking into room 414.  “He was tall, I swore he looked familiar.  Our charge nurse informed me he was recently hired and volunteered to work nights,” Wilkens recalled.  “So being that it was slow and I had only 3 patients as opposed to the usual 5, I went over to see if the new guy needed help.”

nursedoc“Excuse me…”  At that moment when the new nurse looked up from changing a bed pan, “Doctor Fritz!” Wilkens yelled in amazement.

“No, it’s Nurse Charlie tonight,” he responded before she could question any further.

Dr. Charles Fritz, an internist at Mercy Hospital, went back to school to get his RN.  “The job market is tough these days.  Having an RN degree and being able to moonlight as a nurse for this hospital, really put me above the pack,” Dr. Fritz told reporters.

Mercy Hospital recently let 2 hospitalists, an infectious diseases doctor, a cardiologist, and an orthopedic surgeon go over the past 3 months to save on costs.  These recent layoffs ignited a fire under him to go back to night school to get his RN.

Nurse Charlie is taking vitals, giving medications, responding to 10/10 pain, calling doctors for orders, and of course, charting, and charting, and more charting.  “I’m really doing everything that is expected of a nurse here on 4 West, and to be honest I’ve never been more tired,” he said.

“We are definitely over-worked.  I don’t know how [the other nurses] do it,” he continued solidifying his decision.  He also hopes he is able to keep up next week when he will be covering two patients.

“When I round as a doctor I just enter orders into the EHR computer, but I never really knew how it actually got done.  I would notice that it would get done but didn’t really know how.  And now,” he continued with a snarky attitude that only a nurse possesses, “some of these orders are just pissing me off.  I mean giving high-dose Lasix without a Foley catheter and q1 hour neuro checks… Who do these interns and residents think they are?”

“It’s pretty clear at night I’m Nurse Charles, but during the day I’m Dr. Fritz.  I don’t mix the two.”  Nurse Charles loves to call his colleagues in the middle of the night for Chapstick and other PRN orders that were forgotten.

“Hello, Dr. Lennerson, Nurse Charles here, I was calling about your patient in 401, Ms. Johnson.  Can I get an order for Ativan.  She’s having trouble sleeping.”

“Chuck, is that you?  Order it yourself!  It’s 2 a.m.!”

“Dr. Lennerson, I can’t.  I’m a nurse.  I’d lose my nursing license if I went around just ordering medications.”

At times it has been a little confusing and difficult to keep the two separate.  “On rounds the next morning I’ll ask my residents what the patient’s Is & Os were.  They will tell me the nurse didn’t chart them appropriately.  So I’ll wander over to the charge nurse and say who was taking care of Ms. Johnson last night and, of course, it was me…”

Charles has never been more in love with Haldol than he is now.

“Haldol?  Yes, that drug gives me time to do what I love most about nursing: charting!”

Dr. Fitz may be a pioneer but he is not alone.  Dr. Carl Nelson, a cardiothoracic surgeon, is 1 month away from getting his nursing degree.  “I hope they don’t put me on telemetry, those patients are sooo sick!  Plus, who will I blame if the patient dies in the middle of the night?  It is me the whole time!”

There has also been a new trend of nurses obtaining their Doctorates of Nursing Practice (DNP).  In response, many anesthesiologists are getting their CRNA degrees just to stay up-to-date and competitive.

“Being an anesthesiologist and CRNA really helped me get the position,” said Dr. Michelle Dubins.  “Depending upon how much the hospital wants to pay a particular day, they either have me work as a CRNA or other days when the budget isn’t as tight, they plug me in as an anesthesiologist.”

Dr. Fitz sees a not-too-distant future where everyone at the hospital has many degrees and can be easily interchangeable.  “I plan on getting my pharmacy degree next, if I don’t get a spot in neurosurgery residency or accepted to acupuncture school.”

  • Lord Lockwell

    Lord Vincent Lockwell, a medival surgeon, started Gomerblog in 1388. He went for a walk in the alps to get away from the bubonic plague in what is now considered southren Germany when a tragic acident occured. The avalanche did not kill him but froze him for over 500 years. He was thawed and now continues to report on medical news.

  • Show Comments

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    SO TRUE!!! (Monte grad)

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    Jeff Baker

    “I can’t just go around ordering medications…”

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    ER physicians can work full time only 3 12 hour shifts a week – plenty of time to have a life

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    Kim Wong

    Medical satire

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    Paul Mckean

    I can relate to this completely. I’ve been considering getting a welding certification!

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    Sara Mechling Shafer

    He charted his I/O wrong and calls docs for Chapstick orders!

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    Jennifer Moon Pitts


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    Alicia Gray

    Um, no…Gomerblog is medical satire. ;)

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    Jing-Jing Ju-Lin Wang

    Doctors who trained in NYC graduate residency with an RN.

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    Carly Michelle Haas

    Maybe if those doctors came to practice rural medicine it wouldn’t be this way. We are struggling to find MDs and this is what they are doing? Sad.

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    Wendy Roberts

    Hah! they would never put up with all the shit we have to!!

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    Ashley Bautista

    Working in the ER, most residents are pretty cool, but you have that one that tries to be a hard ass and then a nurse who has 25 years puts that resident in his place..that’s just what I observe and then you have attendings that are laid back and work well with nurses, never really had a bad experience with working together. I think it funny seeing new residents, but refreshing seeing them mature and their critical thinking changes in the matter of 3 years

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    Abby Olivia Lessem


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    Denis Smith

    I love messing with residents heads

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    Helen Aanstoos

    Another jewel to make us laugh.

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    Craig Kandell

    i bet there are a bunch of docs, especially er docs who on hindsight realize they could have salved their desire to help others by being a great nurse, and in so doing having more time to do other things on the proverbial ‘to do’ docket …

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    Cheryl Vanderstelt

    I love the part about the RN getting I/Os wrong and it was him LOL

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    Christine Braud

    what’s amazing – is that some people believe this site is real.

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    Patrick Q WojenHammer


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    Robin Fahringer Mitchell Machajewski

    Heehee! If only… heck, I’d settle for them just working as a nurse for one residency rotation!

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    Angelique Tadeo

    It’s never too late :)

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    Matt Basta

    If this is what it takes to stay competitive, there’s going to be a hell of a bubble that’s going to burst

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    Alison Ohana

    I think he looks like Dr. Bass.

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    Patrick Q WojenHammer

    This is a solid idea. Sometimes I think going to med school was the worst decision I ever made.

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    Lisa Dragone

    Let’s see how many drop out lol

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    Prema Majumder

    does this guy ever sleep?!

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    Aaron Wray

    Talent inflation? Where does it end?

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    Zafar Ahamed

    Prema Majumder things are getting rough out there

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    Kimberly Ashley Kunberger

    I don’t know if this is true but it is AWESOME!!!

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    Katie Elizabeth

    Clarice Dixson funny coincidence :)

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    Stuart Mason

    Yes I think it’s a good thing…most Dr (like you Evan) are so much better when they did nursing before medicine…

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    James Berg

    Josh Woolard

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    Kristie Parks Dimak

    I bet Dr. Fritz no longer writes stupid orders like 0.2 mg of IV Haldol!

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    Jonathan Wright

    Marc Wilkinson check this, could be what you’re looking for to give you the edge…

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    Joanie Sapienza


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    Rebecca Manring

    This is hilarious!!!

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    Danielle Moffitt

    Good grief! Teaching and nursing are so similar!

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    Vashta Nerada

    This degree creep is getting out of hand. Get off our lawn. :-P

    Also, it’s not valid, unless it includes 800 leadership courses, and an overabundance of attention paid to grand theories that aren’t useful.

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