The sphere of medical care employs many various professionals, whose duties focus on their clients’ wellbeing. Nurses, doctors, pharmacists, and other specialists are devoted to helping people with their health-related needs. Nonetheless, each medical worker has duties and strategies that are individual to their occupation. For example, one can note that nurses and doctors have their own responsibilities when dealing with patients.
Doctors are the main specialists in most organizations, diagnosing issues and solving problems. Nurses are also important in this process since they connect with patients and physicians for care provision. With the recent shift toward the expansion of nursing duties and responsibilities, one may believe that the care models of doctors and nurses have become identical. However, nursing care remains holistic and centered on patients’ mental and physical wellbeing, whereas doctors’ approach is more grounded in finding and implementing specific cures.
Expansion of Nursing Authority
In order to understand the changes that modern nurses experience in their workplace, one has to mention that, in many states, physician shortages have elevated the roles of nurse practitioners. According to Buerhaus et al., primary care nurse practitioners (PCNPs) can perform the majority of tasks that were previously available only to physicians (144). Therefore, such nurses provide care to patients that is very similar to that of doctors. Currently, many areas have implemented this structure in hospitals, and nurses have become the largest part of the medical staff in such organizations (Buerhaus et al. 145). One may assume, therefore, that nurses have also changed the way they treat patients.
Similarities in Care Provision
The main focus that unites nurses and doctors is their commitment to patient health. Both types of specialists try to provide their clients with solutions that relate to their medical issue. Moreover, both doctors and nurses aim to explain health-related information to patients to increase their understanding. Liu et al. find that all medical professionals use informal language to connect with patients and help them comprehend what medications or procedures they need and why (2949). Here, the patient-focused model of care is apparent – practitioners are interested in treating individuals and eliminate their health problems with available methods.
Furthermore, in most cases, nurses and doctors perform similar activities when interacting with patients. Depending on the place of practice, they may diagnose patients, prescribe medications, consult patients about therapies and alternative treatments. Buerhaus et al. show that both types of specialists collaborate to deliver care (149). The provision of direct patient care can be considered one of the most critical tasks in this field.
Differences in Care Provision
While doctors and nurses treat patients’ health, they focus on different processes and aspects of this activity. For instance, Barrow et al. argue that physicians are mostly engaged in the cognitive domain, delivering diagnoses and treatment options to patients (123). On the other hand, nurses work in the affective domain, providing patients with needed compassion, support, and education (Barrow et al. 123). This is the main difference between these occupations, and it affects how nurses and doctors interact with patients.
Nurses are more likely to spend time with patients and talk to them about health needs and concerns. Through communication, nursing professionals may offer some not medical but rather personal support, one of the staples of nursing care (Sinclair et al. 193). Sinclair et al. collected the opinions of patients and found that nurses often took “an extra step in compassion,” inquiring about their clients’ feelings, comfort, pain, and other concerns (201).
Physicians simply do not have an opportunity to connect with their patients in the same way since they have different responsibilities and time brackets for conversing with patients. Furthermore, while doctors use authoritative language to establish their level of experience and convince patients, nurses are often more interpersonal in their communication (Liu et al. 2950). As a result, individuals spend significant time bonding with nurses.
Such a deep connection between nurses and patients also means that the former pay additional attention to prevention and education strategies. Nurses are more engaged with patient and caregiver teaching, spending more time with families of their clients (Buerhaus et al. 147). They also contribute to community learning and participate in campaigns to disseminate knowledge about preventive practices. In hospitals, nurses who care for patients are concerned not only with medication administration and vitals monitoring but also patients’ feelings and worries.
The sphere of health care provision has a set of goals that target people’s health. Therefore, all medical professionals are interested in helping patients to recover or get better in some way. Doctors are focused on using their expertise to cure patients, providing diagnostic information and ways to combat problems. Nurses with expanded responsibilities can do the same as well. Nevertheless, they also offer compassionate, holistic care that may not be directly connected to prescribed medications and therapies. Nurses provide support and educate clients and their families, emphasizing prevention, issue management, and living changes. Thus, the main difference between nurses and doctors’ care lies in their domains of practice, affective and cognitive respectively.
Barrow, Mark, et al. “Collaborating in Healthcare Delivery: Exploring Conceptual Differences at the ‘Bedside.'” Journal of Interprofessional Care, vol. 29, no. 2, 2015, pp. 119-124.
Buerhaus, Peter I., et al. “Practice Characteristics of Primary Care Nurse Practitioners and Physicians.” Nursing Outlook, vol. 63, no. 2, 2015, pp. 144-153.
Liu, Wei, et al. “Creating Opportunities for Interdisciplinary Collaboration and Patient‐Centred Care: How Nurses, Doctors, Pharmacists and Patients Use Communication Strategies When Managing Medications in an Acute Hospital Setting.” Journal of Clinical Nursing, vol. 25, no. 19-20, 2016, pp. 2943-2957.
Sinclair, Shane, et al. “Compassion in Health Care: An Empirical Model.” Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, vol. 51, no. 2, 2016, pp. 193-203.