When you think of nurses, you might think they’re under the direct orders of a doctor, but they’re actually two entirely different, independent professions that work with each other.
While nurses can work across a variety of specialized units, doctors remain limited to their specialized fields. This makes sense because doctors need to be able to make a specific diagnosis. Nurses, on the other hand, have a job that requires specialization in carrying out tasks and connecting with patients. This is what makes their job versatile.
In a hospital or emergency room, the difference between doctors and nurses is apparent. The doctor only visits the patient once or twice to diagnose and prescribe, while the nurse answers the patient’s calls, determines the patient’s condition, and administers medications.
Nurses spend more time with their patients than doctors
If you’ve ever been admitted to a hospital or accompanied someone to the emergency room, you may have noticed that you see your nurse more than your doctor.
When you first arrive in the emergency room, it’s always a nurse that takes your vitals, brings you to your room, asks you questions about your symptoms, and tells you the doctor will be in to see you shortly.
When the doctor arrives, they’ll ask you about your symptoms and see what they can do. They might prescribe a medication on the spot, even if it’s just acetaminophen with higher strength capsules. The doctor also might order some lab tests before making a diagnosis or prescribing stronger medication.
They’ll spend an average of ten minutes with you and may never be seen again.
Nurses know more about the patient than the doctor
Once the doctor makes a diagnosis or orders tests to help make the diagnosis, the majority of your remaining interactions will be with nurses. Because of this, nurses are the eyes and ears for the doctor.
Nurses are responsible for keeping an eye on their patient’s condition and alerting the doctor if their condition starts to deteriorate.
Nurses form special bonds with their patients
Because nurses spend more time with their patients than the doctor, patients are more likely to trust them with a full disclosure of symptoms they may not have mentioned to the doctor.
And nurses provide friendly smiles for their patients that transcend any language barrier, making them feel safe.
A demanding, yet rewarding career
Nurses do the heavy lifting in the hospital, and it’s well known that nurses don’t always get time to rest or eat their meals. But what they do get is the chance to make a difference for people in the hospital—to ease their loneliness and fears with a smile and a warm heart.
Some nursing students don’t have to wait until they finish school to make a difference for people. For example, Rush University’s nursing program coordinates an outreach program every year on Martin Luther King Day where students cook and serve hot meals to hundreds of people in need. They also provide respiratory and other basic services to homeless people. One student was photographed approaching a camp of people living under a viaduct, encouraging them to undergo addiction treatment.
Nurses are heroes
The role a doctor plays is just as important as a nurse. Patients and nurses depend on doctors to diagnose, prescribe, and assess a patient’s situation from a level of expertise only a doctor can provide.
It’s nurses, however, who spend twelve hours on their feet, tending to the daily needs of their patients, so the doctor is free to respond to emergency situations and thoughtfully diagnose their patients.
From the patient’s point of view, nurses are the heroes. They may only see a fraction of how challenging their job is, but they appreciate the nurses who go out of their way to help, even in such a hurried environment.
It’s the high level of personal interaction between nurses and their patients that contributes the most to a patient’s recovery. A prescription alone won’t heal someone who doesn’t feel happy and loved. Studies have shown a correlation between happiness and healing, and nurses facilitate this healing with their presence.