Healthcare News & Insights

Best practices for enhancing doctor/nurse relationships

There is no better marketing for hospitals than positive word-of-mouth endorsements from former patients to other consumers. Of course, providing quality care is one way to get them, and here’s a key to achieving quality care:

Having positive physician/nurse relationships.

The best hospitals have their docs and nurses working hand in hand. It’s a relationship among peers: Both professions share in getting patients well, and delivering the best healthcare experience possible.

Here are two best practices Dr. Jonathan Burroughs, a certified physician executive, and president and CEO of The Burroughs Healthcare Consulting Network, has uncovered through his experience working in the hospital setting:

1. Nurse-Physician Councils — It’s a group of nurse and physician leaders, who meet with a specific purpose — to improve and optimize nurse/physician relationships and communication. They address nurse/physician issues such as:

  • trust and respect
  • communication, which entails consistent use of Situation, Background, Assessment, Recommendation (SBAR)  and other patient safety tools to optimize clinical effectiveness
  • protocols that help to coordinate schedules so physician and nurses work together
  • clinical and functional pathways to identify when they’re obligated to respond to each others needs and concerns, and
  • bad behaviors.

The council addressed issue of mutual concern that affected patient safety, staff morale, turnover and frustrations.

2. Nurse-Physician Dyads — Nurses and physicians need to lead together if they are going to work effectively. In this best practice, a nurse and physician manager lead their clinical units together through all phases of operations, including:

  • oversight of physician and nursing performance
  • establishment of clinical and functional protocols and evidence-based practices
  • oversight of the operation plan and budget
  • supply chain management and inventory
  • peer review and performance improvement activities, and
  • modeling an effective collaborative culture.

This requires both professions to re-examine their roles and co-manage. For some it means taking on greater responsibilities, for others it entails listening and being more open to different opinions. It’s not easy, but it’s well worth it in the end.

What best practices has your facility implemented to advance nurse/physician relationships? Share your practices in the comments section below.

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  1. […] Business and Technology suggested working hand-in-hand for patient care relies on reducing negative behaviors and management stepping in when frustrations go unresolved for a long period of time. It is […]