Is it legal for a nursing student to be giving medical advice?
Nancy Brent replies:
The question you submitted is difficult to respond to since you did not give an example of what prompted your concern to begin with. Obviously, a nursing student has the responsibility, as part of his or her learning and clinical rotations, to provide guidance, teach patients and instruct family members about nursing care. (A review of the definition of nursing practice in your state nurse practice act and rules will support these responsibilities.) And upon graduation, RNs and LPNs continue to have these as well as other nursing care responsibilities. Likewise, advanced practice nurses provide advanced nursing care to those patients they see.
It is important to keep in mind that the practice of nursing is not the practice of medicine nor is medicine the practice of nursing. Each is a distinct profession with a distinct scope of practice. As one example, an individual cannot be licensed to practice nursing or medicine without the required educational background (e.g., graduation from an accredited nursing education program or medical education program). Another example of the differences in these two professions is the models of practice of each: Nursing utilizes a more holistic approach to the patient whereas medicine’s model is often one of “fixing” the identified health problem. You can read more about these professions and their differences by placing “comparison of nursing with medicine” in your online search engine.
Despite these and other differences, medicine and nursing can, and must, collaborate with one another to provide the best healthcare possible for patients.