With experts like these, who needs doctors?

A friend of mine was telling me the other day that he used to date a girl who he “outgrew.” He said that he bumped into her when he went back to his hometown. She happily told him that she was engaged to marry a “doctor.” He asked her what kind of doctor her fiancé was, and she happily replied that her fiancé was a chiropractor. We both laughed at the thought.

If you know me, you know I have issues with chiropractors calling themselves “doctors,” especially those who claim that “adjustments” can cure or prevent infectious diseases.

The reason why I introduced this post with that anecdote is because there are a ton (and I do mean a ton) of people out there who think that they are “medical professionals” because they did some studying here and there, or read some book somewhere. For instance, here’s exhibit A:


For those of you who can’t read that, let me transcribe it for you:

“I appreciate your sentiments I will.say however I am not threatening anyone. I just know that my child was injured and suffers because of her vaccinations. I am with you one hundred percent mark guess that’s why were friends on fb. I’m not high and mighty.im just simply stating as someone with a medical degree and a parent of a little girl who’s autistic I think I know a little in regaurds to that which I speak professionally and personally. Everyones entitled to their personal choices it just aggrivates me to see some people who so obvioulsy don’t have any experience whatsoever on this subject matter speaking in such a knowing matter. It is them and only them that those comments were directed towards.”

Yeah, she’s a person “with a medical degree” alright, just not a doctor. My sources tell me she’s a Licensed Practical Nurse, an LPN, someone whose degree can be attained in a few months from any number of technical schools or community colleges.

Exhibit B is an old friend of ours, someone who legally threatened me, and now claims the following:

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In his Facebook note, because that’s how scientific knowledge is spread these days, this guy actually wants physicians to call him about a syndrome he invented. The whole thing is difficult to read. Basically, he takes the signs and symptoms of some infections and applies them to autism. Kind of like if I said that an aneurism was meningitis because they both have headaches associated with them. From what some of my dear commenters and I found out, the guy has no medical degree, no medical or scientific background, and likes to sue people a lot. Yet he finds it necessary to get into discussions about vaccination and write things like “I’ve dealt with these kids” when referring to children with Lyme Disease.

The rest of the exhibits are well-known anti-vaccine activists like “The Kid” who thinks his studying of epidemiology makes him an epidemiologist, the formerly American now Australian lady who charges for a magazine that rarely is published, and the botox-using woman who wants to “green our vaccines.” They all lack a science background or training, and, yet, they think they can look at research papers and use them as evidence about the benefits and detriments of vaccines. Why, with “experts” like these, who needs doctors?

Yes, yes, I know that there are vaccination advocates who are also not trained in any of the biological sciences. There are actors and actresses and other famous people who promote the good use of vaccines. Here’s the deal, though: they never claim to be experts in the subject matter, and they never make unsubstantiated claims about vaccines. If they do, they do more harm to the cause than help. And I and all the scientifically trained people in the discussion will call them on it just as forcefully was we call out the anti-vaxxers.

8 thoughts on “With experts like these, who needs doctors?

  1. Not always, Sarah. In some states, an associates degree is required to be certified as an LPN. In others, the educational requirements may be less.
    In every state that I’m aware of, a RN requires a BS and the curriculum is quite standardized.
    I’m personally far from being a medical professional, as I’m a former Special Forces medic. However, I’m quite familiar with pharmacology, pathophysiology anatomy and physiology and medical calculation due to possessing that particular military occupational specialty.
    I would like to study more advanced biology, microbiology and molecular biology of nutrition, just for personal enrichment. My current career path is in information technology and I’m quite satisfied with that path, but I’m a knowledge junkie. 🙂
    We’ll suffice it to say that I quite well grasp what a physician tells me and know quite well that a medical professional I am not. I have one particular skill that is invaluable in life, but infrequently utilized by many. I know when to ask for help, ask questions and defer to subject matter experts who are well educated in their field.
    I’ve even worked with epidemiologists while I was in the military, deployed far forward. Quite a discomforting experience, for they utilize the darkest of the dark arts of mathematics, the dark art of statistics. I know only enough of statistics to injure myself, but they can utilize them in a way that quickly traces down the source of an outbreak, which in many cases, can then be utilized to halt an outbreak.

    • Most nurses I knew in Alaska were only associate level. I have never heard of requiring a BSN to work as a nurse- I have heard that as a whole, the profession is moving toward bachelor’s level only but not that such a thing as actually happened.
      I have also heard that LPNs are being transitioned out and being replaced by medical assistants. I am not sure there is a difference in practice, the hospital I worked at did not hire LPNs or MAs to work on inpatients, only CNAs and RNs. MAs did clinic work, which is more suited to their skillset of giving injections, drawing blood, etc.
      I myself have almost no interest in nursing and thus should not be considered a reliable source. I work in the laboratory.

      • Here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, all RN’s have been required to hold a BS for over 30 years, can’t speak to before that, as I really don’t know what the policy was when I was in school or when I was away with the military.
        Of course, in the past, a PA was an associates degree position, slowly moving toward the current standard that requires a BS.
        That said, LPN’s are being slowly phased out here, with CNA’s and RN’s handling inpatient care and MA’s performing clinical work under the direction of both nurse practitioners and physician assistants, as well as the physician. Indeed, I usually prefer a nurse practitioner or PA to the physician for the majority of my visits.
        When I left SF, the Army offered to send me to school to become an RN. Wasn’t interested in that though.

  2. You are correct, Reuben. An LPN has no business calling him or herself “a person with a medical degree.” I’m an RN, and I wouldn’t call myself “a person with a medical degree” either. It is in fact illegal to misrepresent your credentials. Someone should report her. LPNs ARE considered health professionals, as are registered nurses and nurses assistants. But they have a year or less of academic instruction. One of the most important differences between an LPN and an RN is that the latter must take many hard science courses, just to obtain an Associate’s degree. A BSN requires even more academic and clinical classes, and is writing intensive. The person in question doesn’t even seem competent in high school English, let alone anatomy and physiology, two semesters of biology, microbiology, pathophysiology, medication calculation, nursing research, medical-surgical nursing (4 semesters or more), molecular biology of nutrition, and all the associated lab courses.

    An LPN is not required to take these courses, and this woman’s lack of knowledge is quite apparent.

  3. LPNs don’t even have degrees, it’s a certificate program. Unless she has a degree in something else and is working as an LPN in which case, dang.

    If she has a medical degree, I must be a board certified hematologist.

    Gosh I’m well paid in fantasyland.

    • From the NIH-Office of Science Education website, education course requirements to sit for LPN/LVN (Licensed Vocational Nurse) licensing exam. The program does not lead to a AS-Nursing degree.


      “All States and the District of Columbia require LPNs to pass a licensing examination after completing a State-approved practical nursing program. A high school diploma or its equivalent usually is required for entry, although some programs accept candidates without a diploma or are designed as part of a high school curriculum.”

      “Most practical nursing programs last about 1 year and include both classroom study and supervised clinical practice (patient care). Classroom study covers basic nursing concepts and patient care-related subjects, including anatomy, physiology, medical-surgical nursing, pediatrics, obstetrics, psychiatric nursing, the administration of drugs, nutrition, and first aid. Clinical practice usually is in a hospital, but sometimes includes other settings.”

      From the NIH website, education requirements to attain an AS-Nursing degree or a BSc-Nursing, which are required to sit for Registered Nursing Boards:

      “There are three major educational paths to registered nursing: A bachelor’s of science degree in nursing (BSN), an associate degree in nursing (ADN), and a diploma. BSN programs, offered by colleges and universities, take about 4 years to complete. Generally, licensed graduates of any of the three types of educational programs qualify for entry-level positions as staff nurses. There are hundreds of registered nursing programs that result in an ADN or BSN; however, there are relatively few diploma programs.

      Many RNs with an ADN or diploma later enter bachelor’s programs to prepare for a broader scope of nursing practice. Often, they can find a staff nurse position and then take advantage of tuition reimbursement benefits to work toward a BSN by completing an RN-to-BSN program.

      Accelerated BSN programs also are available for individuals who have a bachelor’s or higher degree in another field and who are interested in moving into nursing.

      Individuals considering nursing should carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of enrolling in a BSN program, because, if they do, their advancement opportunities usually are broader. In fact, some career paths are open only to nurses with a bachelor’s or master’s degree. A bachelor’s degree often is necessary for administrative positions and is a prerequisite for admission to graduate nursing programs in research, consulting, and teaching, and all four advanced practice nursing specialties—clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners. Individuals who complete a bachelor’s receive more training in areas such as communication, leadership, and critical thinking, all of which are becoming more important as nursing care becomes more complex. Additionally, bachelor’s degree programs offer more clinical experience in non-hospital settings.”

      • Interesting! Every RN I’ve known had a BSN.
        However, most of the LPN’s I’ve known were military and all had associates degrees, perhaps it’s something unique to the military.
        I know quite a few military PA’s, some of whom also practice in civilian life as a PA, the older ones had associate degrees, the newer ones all BS degrees as the programs changed over the decades.

        Our oldest daughter is an RN, got her degree five years ago, has four years of experience now. While she was in school, I got some of her text books when she was done with them. When she went to an ECG analysis class, I loaned her my old ECG analysis text book.
        We still discuss some of the more challenging cases she sees, frequently to get my input on the clinical issues and probable diagnosis while she’s awaiting the physician to get around to seeing the patient. My assessment is correct in the majority of cases and she learns new things every time. I get to learn new things as well, especially as she works in a facility that has a large number of geriatric patients for one of her assignments. Didn’t get to do much in geriatrics in my old line of work.

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