I work with nurses on a daily basis, and while I’d like to think I’ve taught them a thing or two, I know they’ve taught me a lot! I wanted to put together a list of a few things pharmacists can learn from nurses.
1. Nurses have extensive experience with patient assessment. Nurses in the field work closely with patients all day, everyday. They see the physical ramifications of Parkinson’s, CHF, COPD, pain etc. on a daily basis. They get to know their patients really well and I’ve learned a lot about patient assessment from nurses.
2. Caring and Patience. From my experience, nurses have to be the most caring and patient healthcare professionals. In the arena of long term care, I think of all the call lights, patient requests, physician requests, behavioral issues, and family requests that a nurse has to deal with, and it is crazy how much you have to care, and how much patience you have to have to be a nurse. A nurse is often caught being mediator between patients, family, pharmacists, physicians, and other healthcare professionals who all may have different ideas about how to best care for a patient.
3. Experienced nurses can be very good communicators. Good communication can prevent errors from happening. I’ve learned how to become a better communicator from many of my nursing colleagues.
4. Nurses want help and want to save time. I can’t recall a time where a nurse hasn’t been appreciative of a medication related problem that I’ve helped solve with them. Trust takes time to develop, but if you establish yourself as a reliable and competent source of drug information, they will come back. Nurses are busy. They want a quick, correct answer to a question they are asking. This isn’t always possible, but the more often you can provide a clear concise answer without a long drawn out thesis statement, the better.
5. Prioritization: Pharmacists can be pretty good at this as well, but nurses often get put into the position of having 10 things to do and they must learn very quickly how to assess and do the most important tasks first.
There you have it, be sure to engage and learn from other healthcare professionals, it will only make you better!
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Eric Christianson, PharmD BCPS, CGP