A recent New York Times op-ed piece called “Nurses Are Not Doctors” explained the difference between doctors and nurses, and claimed that nurses shouldn’t have the same responsibilities when it comes to caring for patients. Nurses have a different skillset, and leveraging their strengths is the most effective way to improve the future of healthcare.
While the average visit with a doctor is less than ten minutes and patients get less than thirty seconds to explain their situation, nurses can put in the extra effort to get to know their patients. With the additional time they spend with patients, nurses can save money in the healthcare system by decreasing the amount of time doctors need for each patient interaction.
Dentists have done something similar, and it’s worked effectively – hygienists are trained in cleaning, X-rays, and diagnoses, yet were only used by two-thirds of dentist offices. Instead of holding onto control and rushing visits, some dentists gave hygienists the autonomy to take ownership of patient visits. If doctors do something similar with nurses, they could grow their practice’s capacity while providing more attention and time to each patient.
This type of efficiency is crucial in the United States, where the demand for specialists outpaces the supply. Nurses are well-equipped to handle a variety of situations, and should be used by doctors whenever possible – in doing so, they could potentially lower overall costs, increase their salaries, and raise the profile of primary care by solving patient needs in an efficient and personal manner.
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