5 Aspects of Patient Care that Doctors can Learn from Nurses
5 Aspects of Patient Care that Doctors can Learn from Nurses
July 8, 2022 by eMedEvents

In the past, healthcare professionals were educated in separate environments according to their professions, resulting in their tendencies to think and act separately once they move on to an actual working environment. Studies have shown that interprofessional collaboration leads to better patient care outcomes by improving teamwork and coworker communication. Therefore, all members of the healthcare team can benefit through demonstrating open-mindedness towards each other’s unique perspectives and areas of expertise.

In particular, nurses form the very backbone of hospital staff. They also serve as the face of the healthcare team, with nurses’ regular and consistent interactions often forming the crux of each patient’s hospital experience. Their compassion, education, experience, and hard work are what allow them to provide exceptional care. Not only do nurses receive specialized training in the realm of caregiving, they hold a special relationship with patients from which they can draw and share invaluable insight with physicians.

Though there is an entire world of possibilities that can be accomplished through professional collaboration, there are five key elements that physicians can learn from their nurse colleagues.

        1. Insight into a patient’s thoughts, feelings, and personal needs

On a daily basis, nurses spend the most time with patients, and they are usually the first to notice minor changes in their patients’ physical conditions and mental states. When a physician wants to know how a given patient is doing, that patient’s primary nurse is the first person to ask. Nurses provide consistent, direct care, and they can offer personalized advice during times in which a physician may have to deliver an unfavorable medical update.

       2. Advice for gaining a patient’s trust

In general, patients are more at ease around their nurses and put a great deal of faith into them when it comes to their health and needs. Among all healthcare professions, nurses are consistently regarded as the most trustworthy when viewed from a patient-oriented perspective.

Therefore, in instances where you–as the physician–would like to learn more about your patient’s wishes and feelings on the direction their treatment plan is heading, you can benefit immensely from speaking to their nurses. Furthermore, you may find it best to defer to the nurses altogether or have them present during times in which you propose treatment modifications to your patient.

       3. Information on a patient’s family dynamics

Nurses do not represent the hospital healthcare experience to patients alone; their daily interactions often involve the patients’ family members as well, as day-to-day care tasks coincide with visiting hours, giving nurses a distinguished look into the patient’s family life and the support system awaiting them once they have been discharged.

      4. Tips for conducting difficult conversations

Because nurses are the members of hospital staff whom patients tend to trust the most, it is likely that they have discussed sensitive, personal issues with their patients regarding their health and medical care. At times, physicians may be left out entirely during conversations on palliative or hospice care and other similarly difficult topics.

While nurses can absolutely provide generalized advice on difficult conversations, the true advantage to this type of collaboration lies with the ability to personalize the ways in which you initiate and conduct sensitive conversations with your patients.

       5. Ways to prioritize your patients

All too often, physicians are stretched impossibly thin due to the many expectations and demands that come with the profession, including the vast number of patients they must care for in a single day and their various administrative responsibilities. At times, it can be challenging to deliver the personalized care each patient needs.

Here, physicians can look to nurses and their work as reminders of the necessity for compassionate patient care. Nurses engage closely with their patients, and they must do so while maintaining attentiveness towards every patient’s unique personality and beliefs. By observing nurses, physicians can learn ways of developing closer relationships with their patients even in spite of the comparative brevity of doctor-patient interactions.


Effective teamwork is a two-way street, and physicians can be a wealth of information to nurses, in turn.  While nurses are most skilled in nurturing trusting relationships with a multitude of patients (many of whom they will not see again), physicians often have long-term relationships with a select few patients and their families, which nurses may be able to learn from, themselves.

Apart from mutual respect for each others’ professional knowledge and personal insight, teamwork is also dependent on efficient communication, which is especially important in a hospital setting. By working together as a cohesive team that recognizes each other's inherent value, physicians and nurses can reach their full potential in the realm of providing excellent patient care.

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