The Difference Between a Clinician and a Scientist

Posted on November 12th, 2015

There are major differences between being a clinician and being a scientist, and there should be a mutual respect between both, which often is not the case.

What is the difference?

A clinician, according to Wikipedia, is a health care practitioner that works primarily as a care giver with a patient in a hospital, clinic, skilled nursing facility, or in a patient’s home.

Only a clinician diagnoses, prescribes treatments, treats and discharges a patient from therapy.

Clinicians complete graduate degrees (masters or doctoral) in their field of expertise, complete clinical practices, pass state and national testing, and are tested before being granted a full license.

Although a clinician must follow evidenced-based best practices and other codes of conduct set by laws and professional governing bodies, a clinician can choose to practice without another’s permission.

Integrating my thoughts as a practicing veterinary clinician, I should have the right to find the best way to treat my patient, particularly if I know my patient will succumb with present day recommended therapy.

What are some of the recognized types of clinicians?

  • Carer
  • Chiropractor
  • Dentist
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Occupational therapist
  • Optician
  • Paramedics
  • Physical therapist
  • Pharmacist
  • Physicians
  • Physician assistant
  • Podiatrist
  • Psychologists
  • Nutritionist
  • Registered nurse
  • Registered practical nurse
  • Special language pathologist
  • Orthopedist
  • Veterinarian
  • Possibly others

Let’s discuss scientists next.

A scientist, according to Wikipedia, in a broad sense is a person engaging in scientific activity to argue knowledge.

In a more restricted sense, a scientist may refer to an individual who uses the scientific method.

The person may be in one or more areas of science.

Science and technology have continually modified human existence through the engineering process.

As a profession, the scientist is widely recognized.

Scientists can be motivated in several ways. Many have the desire to understand why the world is as we see it and how it came to be.

According to Wikipedia, an academic degree (PhD or EdD) is awarded by universities in most countries, qualifying the holder to teach at the university level to the degree held or to work in a specific profession.

Many universities also award “honorary doctorates” to individuals who have been deemed worthy of special recognition for either scholarly work or for other contributions to the university or to society.

What are some of the recognized types of scientists?

NOTE: The general topics listed below, will not include the many other types of scientists included under those topics.

  • Agriculture
  • Archaeology
  • Astronauts
  • Astronomers
  • Biologists
  • Chemists
  • Computer
  • Earth
  • Library
  • Materials
  • Mathematicians
  • Military
  • Physics
  • Psychologists
  • Social

Hopefully understanding the difference between a clinician and a scientist may help suggest why there often is a difference in opinion and beliefs between practicing clinicians and practicing scientists.

A clinician is primarily concerned about the health of the patient even though the clinician does not have all the facts and a scientist is also concerned with the patient’s health, but the treatment for that patient must be based upon fact and not just clinical results. This is why a clinical case report serves as little value for a scientist.

A clinician and a scientist have different criteria for deciding upon the proper treatment for a patient. This is where much of the conflict comes between a clinician and a scientist.

An example of this is with a double blind study.

A double blind study usually involves treating 50% of the patients in the study with what is thought to be a proper, perspective therapy, and the other 50% of the patients are given a placebo, in order to determine the end results of the study for possible publication.

A scientist will want double blind studies to be included in most published papers. A clinician will rarely include a double blind study, because a clinician is there to treat each patient to the best of their ability.

There needs to be a mutual understanding and respect between a scientist and a clinician because even though their training and criteria may be different, hopefully both are trying to find better ways to treat their patients.

Hopefully this article explains the difference between a clinician and a scientist.

A clinician has the right to treat a patient with results, that work.

A scientist needs to make sure the facts have been proven first, before treating the patient.

Being a healer, I will always give a patient a chance to live by something that our clinicians and scientists may not yet have discovered, but works, than die by the book, with what has been discovered.