Nurses are the greatest ally of medical students

by Shawn Vuong

Besides the fact that I am going to marry one, I want to say that nurses are the greatest ally to the medical student.

“Nurses can make or break you.”  I don’t remember where I read this quote, so I do not know who to give the credit to, but the quote is true.  Nurses talk about doctors and medical students all of the time.  They know all of the doctors’ quirks and habits, and they quickly learn those of the medical students.  So, it’s a great idea to have them on your side.

But it’s not enough to just talk to one.  Nurses talk.  And boy do I mean they talk.  Piss off one nurse, and you might as well dodge that whole floor for awhile.  Another good reason to stay on their good side.

Here is the best part though.  Since nurses know so much more about the attending physician than any of the medical students, they can give you hints on how to make the attending happy.  Such as:

“Oh that Dr. A, he loves a student that shows initiative.  So ask a lot of questions.”

“Dr. B gets annoyed if you do not follow her until she dismisses you.”

“Well, every time Dr. C is with a medical student, he likes to ask about the patient’s allergies to see if you’ve reviewed the chart.”

These pearls of wisdom can make you look like a star to your attending.  If you hadn’t known these things, you would of course look like a moron until you figured them out.  And in the third year of medical school, where an attending physician’s subjective opinion of you decides your grade, these pearls from the nurses are definitely worth a few boxes of cookies or chocolates.

Grab a nurse, and make her your friend today.  You won’t regret the decision, believe me.

Shawn Vuong is a medical student who blogs at Medically Mind Numbing.

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  • Pam

    You are SO right! It was always amusing to me how many med students/residents overlooked the fact that their success in surgery could many times parallel their behavior toward the nursing staff. Med students and residents come and go, but experienced nursing staff is forever. Being nice is always a payoff. (An experienced surgical nurse from a major trauma center.)

  • http://www.aneurysmsupport.com/ Mike

    It is the same for engineers. We have Draftsmen to take care of us.

  • http://thehappyhospitalist.blogspot.com The Happy Hospitalist

    As I’ve said before, Doctors save lives. Nurses save doctors and lives. Now, if hospitals would just stop treating nurses like robots…..

  • http://Www.Twitter.com/alicearobertson Alice

    Shawn is that last line literal…..I am thinking you took it clearly to heart…..like in maybe marrying a nurse? Ah……it is soo sweet! And so are you….ha!

  • http://mystrongmedicine.com Sean

    Hmm… make ‘her’ your friend huh? Ahh.. the stereotyping continues.
    *sigh*
    And… this post hit the nail on the head.

  • guest

    I’m not ragging on nurses, but why doesn’t anybody every say, “Treat doctors well, they can save your hide.” It seems that doctors are always being put down while nurses are exalted.

  • http://www.abhishekarora.com Abhishek Arora

    Nice post, LOL about “grabbing a nurse” & making her your friend!
    Nurses are an integral part of the medical game & it is time we give credit where it is due!

  • Niamh van Meines

    What about the nurse that calls you at 2 in the morning because you have been giving her a hard time…..better be nice to her too if you want to get some rest!

  • http://www.medicallessons.net Elaine Schattner, M.D.

    If nurses are med students’ greatest allies, doesn’t that suggest that doctors aren’t doing a sufficient job? (Shouldn’t we be students’ #1 advocates and mentors?)

  • http://www.twitter.com/alicearobertson Alice

    I know the above response was to med students, but from a patient’s mom and wife recently during hospital stays I can say…..doctors are way too busy to spend the time nurses are willing to spend. The residents rush in and out, while a nurse knows the families names, learned where we live and showed how much she was invested in recovery (repeatedly telling us it was her job to help us). The nurses do the timely jobs and I would talk to them. The residents would fly in and out so fast they left skid marks on the floor. :) I would sit all morning waiting on the grand appearance so I could ask them questions. I liked them very much, but they seem to be overworked. So…I was told to ask the nurse, and then she could call them,,,so the nurse was my lifeline…and they were outstanding.

  • Melissa Erasmus

    “Nurses talk.  And boy do I mean they talk.” Your article itself isn’t going to make many nurses your friend… 

  • Anonymous

    This is one of the most demeaning posts I have ever read.  Shawn, nurses are not in place to serve you.  You are already treating them like underlings.  Good luck in your career my friend.  They are there to serve the patient, not you.  Your article is both condescending AND demoralizing to the professionals who break their back every day to treat patients.  It is discouraging to see a student MD such as you come in to the profession with this attitude.  If you enter medicine with the belief to make a nurse your ally, so that YOUR job and life is easier you’re going to be a crappy doctor.  Treat them as your true colleagues and fellow professionals and you might be successful.  Saying the ‘nurses talk’ makes them seem like gossip mongers.  Sorry, but I view your article with complete comtempt.

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