She said it was important for the public to realize that nurses are professionals, not assistants to or employees of doctors.
“Nurses are independent and intelligent licensed health professionals who often times have to be just as smart if not smarter that doctors so we can ensure that what we’re doing based on doctor’s orders are in fact safe and what we know to be in your best interest,” Benjamin said.
Nurses are also responsible, in most instances, of carrying out orders prescribed by doctors.
“They can order all the medications, treatments, monitoring and blood tests and everything else in the world… but who do you think actually does it?” Benjamin said. “Who works the equipment? Who gives the medications? Who changes those wound dressings? Who makes sure the therapist sees you? Who gets your medical equipment ordered? Who gets you that pain pill at 2:30 a.m.? And the list goes on…. If your machines are beeping – please don’t let the doctor touch it – get the nurse!”
Benjamin said nurses are more likely to tell you the real side effects of a medication and usually have gotten enough information from patients, their family and friends to know what other medications are at play and informs the doctor so that there are no contra-indicated problems. She said when patients are confused about problems with a medication or need details for an upcoming test, they are more likely to get a detailed answer from a nurse.
So if a good medical team pulls you through a crisis, don’t just thank your doctor; thank your nurse.