On my first day of a clinical rotation at a community health clinic in Phoenix, Ariz., nursing students, med students, interpreters, and primary care providers huddle in the back room to present history and physical exam findings to our MD preceptors. In between patients, one of the med students starts chatting me up. “You’re a nurse practitioner student? Cool, my mom is a nurse. Wait, what’s the difference between a nurse and a nurse practitioner?” he asks.

I used to get this question all the time from med students, so I give my well-rehearsed answer.

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