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7 Ways Doctors Can Work Better with Nurses

Doctor and nurse chatting

Doctor and nurse chattingA successful workplace fosters a sense of respectful collaboration, and there are few places where teamwork is more important than in a medical setting.

Research has shown that when there’s cooperation, open communication, and respect for each other’s roles as healthcare professionals, patients respond with higher rates of compliance and facilities receive more positive surveys, which now carry financial incentives.

However, the opposite is true, too. When clinicians function in silos, separately or detached from other members of the treatment team, communication and collaboration can falter.

Locum tenens physicians have the added burden of establishing relationships with new team members, earning their trust while also acclimating to a new workplace. That’s makes it even more important for you to find ways to work better with nurses and other members of the healthcare team. Keep reading to see how you can improve workplace relations wherever you accept locum tenens jobs.

Get to Know Names

Nurses and other staff appreciate the respect that comes with being addressed by their names. Of course, if you’re at a facility where everyone wears identification badges, that’s helpful, especially when trying to learn many names quickly. If that clue isn’t available, try a mnemonic trick to help remember names.

Don’t Assume Nurses will Translate Your Shorthand

The nurses at a new assignment may not use the exact terminology you do in your own practice or that you adopted from other temporary positions. If you’re unsure about how nurses refer to certain items or orders, simply ask. The few minutes it takes to inquire could save both doctor and nurses many moments of frustration due to confusion and possible miscommunication.

Make Eye Contact

Not looking someone in the eye when speaking to him or her signals that the conversation isn’t that important. Conversely, engaging in eye contact conveys a sense of seriousness and enables you to confirm the message is received, once again avoiding misunderstandings.

Put Orders in Writing and Follow Up

Electronic health records and other technology in the healthcare setting have made physician-nurse communication more immediate, but the importance of putting instructions in writing hasn’t lessened. When in doubt, write it out, not just a quick verbal instruction. However, don’t assume an order entered into a chart will always be sufficient. Follow up with a conversation, especially when it involves high-priority actions. This can help nurses prioritize during busy shifts.

Include Nurses in Clinical Conversations

Nurses are well-informed healthcare professionals and may welcome the chance to learn more about medicine. They may want to benefit from the experiences and skills you’ve picked up from accepting contracts in multiple locations. If you’re assigned to an acute care hospital that includes rounding responsibilities, invite nurses to accompany you and ask for their assessments. When working in an office setting, tap into nurses’ knowledge about patients whom they see regularly. That insight is another tool you can use when treating individuals you’re meeting for the first time.

Address Concerns with Nurses

You hope every locum tenens opportunity transpires without incident, but that may not always be the case. There could be instances that require additional attention. When appropriate, directly discuss your concerns with the nurse involved. Be sure to use a tone that reflects a willingness to resolve the problem. For concerns that are more complex, enlist your staffing company consultant. He or she can act as a mediator with the contracting facility’s administrators to work out the details.

Provide Positive Feedback

Everyone appreciates being told they’ve done a good job, and nurses are no different. Take a moment after a patient visit or at the end of a shift to acknowledge positive interactions or exceptional clinical skills. This also will help the nursing staff and others accept your temporary presence at the facility. When you finish your assignment, let nurses and others know how they helped you.

Nurses, ancillary healthcare professionals, and administrative staff can serve as a critical support network for locum tenens physicians. Investing in collaborative workplace relations can pay big dividends by making short-term assignments a professional and friendly experience for all involved.

About the author

Anne Baye Ericksen

Anne Baye Ericksen is a journalist and locum tenens subject-matter expert with more than two decades of experience. She was a regular contributor to LocumLife, Healthcare Traveler and Healthcare Staffing and Management Solutions magazines.

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