Improving Physician-Nurse Relationships Requires Perspective and Communication

Written by Rose Torrento on Monday, December 19, 2016 Posted in Healthy Living

Doctors and NursesIn most patients’ minds, doctor-nurse relationships are exactly as they appear on TV: Everyone works together as a team, they communicate, and they use collective brainpower to treat patients in the most effective ways possible. The reality is that relationships between doctors and nurses aren’t always ideal. In fact, physicians often feel the relationships they have with nurses are significantly better than nurses believe them to be. That simple fact illustrates one of the main differences between doctors and nurses: perspective. It’s important for care facility leaders to focus on eliminating negative and disrespectful communication, but they must also work to promote and define the positive behavior and communication that's desirable between nurses and doctors.

One of the top complaints  especially from nurses  is that communication between nurses and physicians is insufficient. Furthering communication issues, physicians and nurses don’t always have perspectives on the others' jobs and pressures. In the past, nurses were often unwilling to speak up about important issues such as patient care opinions and observations, and physicians assumed that nurses understood all their orders or could infer when an order needed to be carried out immediately — versus when the nurse could add it to an already overburdened schedule.

Times have changed and so have patient care expectations. Patients today expect their entire health care team to work together, and it’s been proven that nurses add valuable patient care insights. So, how can nurses and doctors improve their relationships?

It begins with communication. For nurses, that means not being afraid to speak up when you have an opinion and not feeling the need to apologize because you have an opinion. Conversely, physicians need to learn to value their nurses’ opinions. Nurses spend more time observing and interacting with patients than physicians do. In fact, they often have closer relationships with their patients than physicians do.

bigstock Happy Doctor Nurse Team 142923083Improving nurse-doctor relationships also requires some understanding from both sides. Most health care providers are under a lot of stress, which can heighten tension and encourage unnecessary conflict. Sometimes, remembering patient care common ground and extending that empathy to co-workers can pave the way to forgiveness and a more positive work environment.

At HPC, we’re always here for you! Whether you’re considering another assignment or taking the leap on your first, we can help you through the process. Contact us online or give us a call at 888-299-9800.

About the Author

Rose Torrento

Rosemarie Torrento has worked in health care for more than 26 years, beginning as a registered nurse in 1988. Early in her nursing career, Torrento worked as a freelance contract nurse before accepting a position in nursing administration. During her 17-year tenure in that role, she oversaw nursing employment and travel nurse contracting at a Level 1 Trauma Hospital in Michigan. Understanding the challenges travel nurses faced, Torrento founded Health Providers Choice Inc. (HPC) in 2003. Through Torrento’s extensive experience and her role as President and CEO, HPC provides travel placement of registered nurses and allied health professionals to hospital systems nationally.