5 Reasons Why Doctors and Patients Need Nurses

Dedicated to Patty, Stella, Tiffany, Susan, and Paulinethe invaluable nursing team that I have the pleasure of working with every day.

If you’ve turned on the television recently, then surely you’ve seen the Miss Colorado Kelley Johnson versus The View controversy. In case you missed it, here’s a short recap: co-hosts Joy Behar and Michelle Collins shamefully made fun of the Miss America contestant’s talent segment. Miss Colorado, a proud nurse, entered the stage wearing scrubs and a stethoscope around her neck, reciting a monologue describing her compassion and dedication to the profession while working in an Alzheimer’s unit.

Unfortunately, the co-hosts insulted Miss Colorado’s candid performance by stating that it’s not a true talent compared to the other contestants who sang opera and played the violin.  Then, Joy Behar, perhaps due to lack of awareness on the subject and how the healthcare system functions, made a rather unsophisticated comment, asking why the contestant was wearing a “doctor’s” stethoscope.

Needless to say, the healthcare community has been offended at the hosts’ insensitivity towards nurses. This situation has been a real eye opener to those in medicine, who have realized that the rest of the world may not truly comprehend what any of us—from nurses to administrators to doctors—do on a day-to-day basis. The unquestionable truth is that hospitals, clinics, and medical facilities could simply not function without nurses.

I’ve described the typical day in the life of a clinic doctor in the past. Hospital doctors, although their duties differ due to the nature of the hospital environment, run in circles like a hamster too. The candid truth is that we simply cannot function alone in the clinic or at the hospital.  We need help.  A lot of it.

Here’s five reasons why doctors cannot do our jobs without nurses:

1.  They are our hands

They administer treatments. This includes not only life-saving medications, but also vaccines, intravenous fluids and treatments, transfusions, hemodialysis, chemotherapy. They inspect, clean, treat, and heal your wounds. In some places, they may be the ones who even draw blood. They work very diligently to make certain your treatment is administered precisely and on schedule, every day, all day and all night long.

2. They are our eyes and ears

They are our frontline soldiers—they monitor your ongoing health while in the hospital up close and continuously (and yes, that means they use a stethoscope). They routinely check vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, breathing rate, etc.), assess physical status and symptoms, read the heart monitors, and closely monitor progression through a patient’s entire hospital stay. They are the ones who often alert the doctors on the team when something goes wrong. They are the ones who often call a “code” when a patient’s heart stops. They perform CPR. They are the key people on the healthcare team who spend the most time with patients at the hospital. They collaborate with others on our medical teams and must have keen eyes, ears, and communication skills in doing so.

3. They are our voices

They are the link to your families and loved ones. They are the ones who communicate with your families, both in the hospital and in the clinic, and who keep them updated with your condition and reassure them when they cannot be there.

4. They are our hearts 

They calm you down when you are anxious. They hold your hand when you are sad. They keep you comfortable in the most stressful of times. Your loved ones and doctors feel safe to leave a patient during his or her stay because they trust the nurses to hold down the fort in their absence. They help deliver your babies.  They assist your surgeon in the operating room. They often deal with life or death situations. They choose this heroic career not for recognition, but because of their compassion for others.

5.  They are our knowledge

They provide patient education. They teach a patient how to use a glucose monitor and how to eat as a diabetic. They translate the doctor’s often complex medical jargon into laymen’s terms. They make certain a patient goes to the lab when he or she is supposed to get that x-ray. They make sure a patient takes his or her medication the right way.

Did you know that nurses also practice medicine as Nurse Practitioners (NPs)?  Yes, NPs receive extended training and are invaluable to many medical organizations, and their importance has only grown over time.  When you cannot see your doctor right away, you may end of seeing your doctor’s NP.


So as you can see, these scrubs are not costumes, and stethoscopes are not props. These are hard-working, selfless soldiers who fight for your health on the frontline every day.  Next time you are at the doctor’s office, be sure to tell the nurses there how much you appreciate what they do, and watch them smile with sincerity and compassion.

This list does not even come nearly close to complete. If you are a nurse, please give a shout-out and add to this list what you personally accomplish on a day-to-day basis in the comments below.

Please note that all content here is strictly for informational purposes only.  This content does not substitute any medical advice, and does not replace any medical judgment or reasoning by your own personal health provider.  Please always seek a licensed physician in your area regarding all health related questions and issues.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.