Doctors from the Nursing Perspective

I’ve worked with some wonderful doctors in my career. I’ve worked with some horrendous doctors in my career. This post is not about horrible doctors, but to throw some perspective in there, I’ve had bloody scaples thrown at me from across a surgical suite. 

I’d always heard the ER was a crazy place to work, and it is. What I love about it though, is that my doctors are sitting next to me. Well, almost so. They have a small alcove in the center of the nurses’ station, but it’s not full walls, more like grids, so everyone can hear and almost see what’s going on everywhere in the unit, but hides the doctors from inquisitive patients and family members. The benefit? They see and hear everything their nurses say and do for the patients and I think it has changed their perspective on our field. 

Friday, as I ate my sandwich while charting, my doc asked for an update on my patient. “She’s ready to discharge, just waiting on the fluids to go in.” “Can we put her on a pressure bag?” (This is a bag around the fluids that is pumped up and all it does is literally put pressure on the fluid bag to make it go in the vein faster.) “Sure! Let me go grab it.” “Don’t worry; eat your lunch, I’ll do it.”

Jaw drop.

Last week I walked in to my patients room for the first time as the doctor and his scribe were walking out. “They’ll need a line and labs, a few swabs, and an EKG,” he said to me. “But I’ll be right back.” As I wheeled the EKG machine in the room, he returned with a warm blanket for the patient.

Jaw drop.

Things like this happen every day I work in this Emergency Department. It could be this department, in this hospital. I’ve worked on units where the medical director made a point to hire doctors who were true team players and respected the entire team. And I’ve worked on units which the opposite was true. It could be an ED thing in general, but I don’t have the experience in emergency work to tell that yet.

I recently read an article ( in which a medical residency program required the newly graduated doctors to follow a nurse for a shift. I genuinely think this is a must for hospitals, and for every part of the healthcare team. I would love to shadow a doctor for a day. I know I learned a ton as a circulator in the OR in that I was the one answering their pagers when they were scrubbed in to the field. The look of dismay when I read the page stating the patient’s potassium was 4. (Smack dab in the middle of normal.) The sheer number of patients doctors see and are charged with the care of each day is almost at a horrendous level. 

Our workflows are drastically different and to have a better understanding and empathy towards those differences can mean the difference in a good or bad patient outcome. Working together with respect of eachothers’ time and energy is critical. 


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