How Good Nurses Make A Doctor's Job Easier

February 15, 2016
Ryan Gray, MD
Ryan Gray, MD

Ryan Gray, MD, is a former Air Force Flight Surgeon. He is now helping premed students overcome obstacles on their journey to become physicians at the Medical School Headquarters.

By advocating, providing education and keeping an eye out for red flags, excellent nurses can play a critical role in keeping patients safe and healthy. Here are some ways that nurses help doctors to do their jobs better.

Good nurses make a doctor’s job easier — and help doctors to do their jobs better. Whether they work in the office, hospital or another care setting, physicians rely on excellent nursing to ensure that patients receive the best care.

By advocating, providing education and keeping an eye out for red flags, excellent nurses can play a critical role in keeping patients safe and healthy. Here are 6 ways that nurses help doctors to do their jobs better:

1. They take care of the “little things.” We all know that “little things”—whether it is a smile, a conversation, answering a question, a fluffed pillow, getting a cup of ice water, or being kind to a family member—can make a big difference in a patient’s perception of quality care. That perception has been shown to help with better outcomes, too! Good nurses take care of all of these “little things” and much more. They keep patients happy and comfortable so they can recuperate faster.

2. They have their finger on the pulse. Nurses are the heartbeat of any doctor’s office, hospita,l or long-term care facility. They know what is going on with their patients, personally and health-wise. Patients often tell nurses things that they might not share with a doctor, which can help nurses to identify potential patient problems or issues and bring them to the attention of the doctor.

3. They take care of doctors. Good nurses help doctors prioritize which patients should be seen first—a huge time-saver. They give doctors a heads up when a patient has specific questions so the doctor can be prepared with an answer. And, they inform doctors of other issues that patients might not be willing to discuss, such as family or personal problems and embarrassing symptoms or side effects (see No. 2). If you are nice to them, they will go out of their way to help you and make you look good.

4. They advocate for patients. Nurses help patients get what they want and need. They serve as communication liaisons between patients and doctors. They also help to filter (sometimes unreasonable or misdirected) patient requests so that doctors only need to deal with the really important stuff.

5. They provide education and answer questions. Without nurses, doctors would spend much more time answering patient questions. Often, a nurse can describe a procedure, answer a scheduling question, respond to family inquiries or provide advice. This extra time allows doctors to see more patients more efficiently and spend the extra time dealing with serious cases.

6. They put their instincts and experience to work. Because nurses often treat patients with a wide range of medical problems, they have experience and develop instincts that may allow them to quickly spot potential problems. Doctors are typically limited to certain specialty areas, so they may not be as quick to clue in on a symptom or issue outside the scope of their practice.

A quality nursing staff doesn’t just benefit your patients—great nurses can also benefit your sanity, your reputation and your practice. But, what makes a good nurse tick? In my next post, I’ll clue you in on the personal and professional characteristics that I’ve seen in the great nurses that I’ve worked with.