From my experience as a nurse, I always remember the importance of engaging the whole team. Each team member provides unique insights that can optimize the care of the patient.
“Hi Dr. Lyons, this is Nina. I’m calling about Janet Reynolds in Room 667. Her nausea is poorly controlled and I’m wondering if we can add ondansetron to her regimen?”
“Sure, that sounds fine, but I’m confused. Why are you calling me about this?”
“Sorry, I should have been clear. I’m working as a nurse today,” I replied.
Picking up occasional shifts as a floor nurse during medical school threw off the house staff, but the benefits for me far outweighed the conversation with an occasional confused intern.
Like many in healthcare, I entered nursing to help others. Indeed, “caring for the whole person,” defines what a nurse is and distinguished the profession from medicine, which I falsely believed was solely disease-focused.
Through my work as a leukemia research nurse, I grew fascinated by the underpinnings of the pathology afflicting my patients, and ultimately decided that I wanted a deeper understanding of their disease biology. My reluctance in pursuing medicine mostly stemmed from concerns as to whether I could still keep my patient-centric approach.
From my experience as a nurse, I always remember the importance of engaging the whole team. Each team member provides unique insight. The nurses often spend more one-on-one time with their patients and with that comes the opportunity to understand the patient’s needs and concerns at a different level. Involving the entire team is critical. We all share the same mission: to give excellent care to our patients.
While I sometime miss the depth of relationships with patients that I had as a nurse, I recognize the importance of making the time with my patients count. The computer screen looming between me and the patient, coupled with my pager invariably beeping, are constant distractions, but I try to actively listen and be present as best I can. And when, for example, I feel dismayed that my patient seems overwhelmed and hasn’t grasped the side-effects of a chemotherapy drug after my explanation, I remember that I can reach out to the nurses, and they’ll be there to help.
This piece expresses the views solely of the author. It does not necessarily represent the views of any organization, including Johns Hopkins Medicine.