The nurse/doctor relationship is one of the most important in a hospital – yet it can often be the trickiest to navigate. Doctors can sometimes expect a task to be done immediately, yet when a nurse is caring for several patients at the same time, ‘now’ isn’t always possible. Similarly, some nurses can be a little timid around registrars and consultants, when teamwork is what’s needed. So here’s how to get – and stay – on the right footing with the doctors in your place of work:
1. Be open-minded
As an agency nurse, you can find yourself regularly working in new places, with different teams – and unfamiliar ways of working. This means you might have to think on your feet more than a regular nurse! Be adaptable and flexible and ask how you can help, rather than assuming tasks are done in a way you’ve previously learned. Familiarise yourself with the team so you know who’s who and don’t make any glaring assumptions.
2. Be nice!
A little friendliness goes a long way. Smile, say hello, ask how doctors are and offer to make a round of tea. Showing that you’re willing to be part of the team will stand you in good stead!
3. Be clear
Communication is vital and, for a nurse, especially so. The link between the patient and doctor, you need to be skilled in sharing information quickly, reliably and often using different vocabulary. Keep clear notes; of not just patient details but also doctors’ instructions. With several patients to look after, keeping an accurate list can jog your memory. This particularly applies when speaking to a doctor over the phone instead of at a patient’s bedside.
4. Be brief
Your job as a nurse is to convey information to the doctor as quickly and accurately as possible. There’s no need for clever jargon to be impressive; just relay the facts as soon as you have them.
5. It’s okay to set boundaries
Be clear about what is and isn’t possible, whilst remaining respectful and polite at all times. Never tell a doctor that you don’t have time to do something she or he is asking of you; say that you will do it just as soon as you’ve finished x, y or z. And don’t be afraid to offer your opinion or instinct about a patient; chances are you will have had more conversations with the person than the doctor has, and your insight could prove invaluable. Be prepared, however, for the final decision to lie with the doctor. If it’s one you’re not comfortable with, mention it to your manager and, again, record your opinion and the doctor’s decision in your notes.
6. Remember the patient
As we said earlier, the nurse-doctor patient is important – but it nevertheless comes second to any relationship with the patient. They are at the heart of your work, and their welfare is far more important than scoring a quick point or highlighting to the ‘right’ person a job well done!
Several of our previous blogs will also stand you in good stead for creating the best possible nurse/doctor relationship, including qualities you need to be a nurse and how to handle a nursing emergency. And if you’re a nurse or healthcare assistant in need of a new challenge and would like to join our nursing agency team, get in touch today!