Physicians and nurses work in the exact same environment on a daily basis, yet are kept separate for a great portion of their training. In a modern world that prides itself on the ease through which communication and cooperation are made possible, why is it that collaboration remains difficult between two of the arguably most important jobs in society?
How would you summarize the differences between the role of a nurse versus the role of a doctor? While it’s not a straightforward question with an easy answer, generally nurses function as primary caregivers and provide general treatment while tending to the general needs of the hospital and the patient. In contrast, doctors draw upon their more extensive medical training and knowledge to formulate opinions and make diagnostic decisions. It becomes immediately clear that these two roles are intimately linked, and neither are able to function successfully in a medical setting without the other. Although they share a common goal, it’s the differences between how a nurse and a doctor are trained, as well as the role they play, that really makes the relationship work. It’s these differences that bring together a diverse array of experiences and expertise that become critically important in order to best treat patients.
Fighting the Stigma
Traditionally, the roles of nurses and doctors have faced a great deal of prejudice. Tried and true teaching methods placed a strong emphasis on independence and autonomy whereas open dialogue and collaboration was put under a weaker focus. In a dynamic field like medicine, in which changes occur at light speed, it’s interesting to note how these kinds of stereotypes remain strong. It doesn’t take an expert to recognize the importance of embracing better nurse-physician relationships, which not only would improve patient care but also reduce stress and workload on healthcare providers.
What Can Be Done?
Embrace the differences between roles instead of seeing it as a hindrance! Remember that all healthcare providers are working towards a common and noble cause. Show advocacy for the work that you do and speak up when you notice issues and problems. Treat others with respect and avoid eroding the trust of others through blame and frustration. Like an iron door that’s been rusted shut, old barriers can be difficult to surpass. Emergency medicine educators must work together to develop new ways through which collaboration and interdependence can be taught and encouraged.