How Differences Between Nurses Affect Physicians’ Decision-Making Process
The differences in education and experience among nurses should be taken into consideration by the physician and will play a role in the physician’s decision-making process.
The Ability of the Nurse to Assess
Nurses who are less experienced or do not have a strong educational background may not initially provide a complete clinical picture or may inadvertently omit details that could be pertinent to a patient’s plan of care. When interacting with a newer nurse or a nurse with less experience in their area of practice, a physician should always be aware that they will need to ask more follow up questions and be sure that they are receiving the full clinical picture.
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The Ability of the Nurse to Understand What Needs to be Done
If a physician is not physically present, it is beneficial to the patient and to the physician for the nurse to be as autonomous as possible. This decreases the number of calls that the physician needs to field and streamlines patient care. Nurses who have less clinical knowledge or experience may require clear, detailed guidelines that indicate what they should call the physician for and in what areas they should act autonomously. By providing less experienced or educated nurses with clear, consistent guidelines, physicians can reduce the number of calls they receive and help the patient to receive more efficient care.
The Nurse’s Ability to Understand Orders
Nurses without much clinical experience may be unfamiliar with orders that seem routine. This can cause them to misunderstand certain orders and increase the risk of medical errors. Closed loop communication is the standard of care for all orders given, but careful attention should be given when providing orders to nurses with less experience. Orders for procedures or medications that are less common are especially important to clarify that the nurse has correctly received and understood. By using closed loop communication and requiring feedback from the nurse, physicians can help to avoid potential confusion and misinterpretations of their orders.
Nurses are a vital part of the healthcare team, but have varied backgrounds, education, and experience. When physicians are aware of these differences between nurses, they are better able to adjust their decision-making process to include the ability of the nurse to provide the best care possible to their patients.
Japa Volchok, DO is a trained vascular surgeon and experienced wound care physician. He currently works as Vice President of Operations for Vohra Wound Physicians, the largest wound care specialty group focused on the post-acute market.