Happy National Nurses Week!

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From a young age, I was fascinated by the stories my mother, a former registered nurse, shared about nursing school and working in the neonatal intensive care unit. Assimilating unclear plans from (rude) doctors to provide timely updates to families was something she did on a daily basis but often found frustrating. Fast-forward to the conversations I’ve had with nurses during my residency training, and it seems like this problem is getting worse. 

I’ve watched many of my physician colleagues berate nurses for their opinions, for being woken up at 3 AM for a “ridiculous question”, for “not checking the chart before calling”, etc. I can’t even count the number of times I’ve responded to a page and the first words out of the nurse’s mouth are: “Hey doctor Kumar, I’m so sorry to bother you, but…”

This isn’t right! 🙁

I can’t stress this enough to premeds, medical students, residents, and even attendings – listen to the nurses. They spend more time with patients than many of you. If they’re worried about something, no matter how trivial, don’t be so arrogant to immediately dismiss it. Their concerns should be our concerns, and in general, we should do a better job of incorporating them in determining the goals of care.

From a trainee standpoint, a handful of very patient nurses were responsible for teaching many of my medical “firsts” – suturing and tying surgical knots, placing peripheral IVs, dressing a wound, and phlebotomy to name a few. I’ve watched nurses assist patients with motor disabilities when eating their meals. I’ve seen them cry with family members who lost a loved one. I’ve seen them remind physicians that medicine isn’t just about lab values, diagnoses, and treatments. There’s a story behind every patient… a story we need to know and appreciate.

Happy National Nurses Week to all the wonderful men and women who have dedicated their careers to nursing. My heartfelt praise goes out to each one of you who continue to heal, to teach, and to advocate for your patients above all else! Thank you for everything you do! 😀

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