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Resolving the Disrespect Disconnect

Joe Cantlupe, for HealthLeaders Media, March 8, 2012

The findings illustrate fundamental "ineffective communication or having different expectations" among the two groups, with physicians sometimes having a misperception of nurses' roles, and nurses in conflict with physicians over the "misunderstanding of what needs to be done at a given time," Kadlick says.  She acknowledges that such communication problems could manifest themselves when a physician "cuts off" a nurse's suggestion or comment.

"I do believe nurses and physicians are on two different pages when it comes to communication," Kadlick adds. "Time is a commodity for physicians today. When they present to do rounds, they want to have pertinent data given to them. Nurses have a tendency to give a very detailed report, more than what a physician may want to hear; hence, the physician may interrupt, seem to be abrupt, even rude at times."

When confronted as being rude or disrespectful, a physician often would be "truly taken aback, as they do not see it this way," Kadlick says. Referring to reports of alleged abuse, Kadlick says she believes that "while there are validated incidents of true disrespect for nurses by physicians, these incidents are minimal."

As health systems improve care coordination and increase the roles of nurse navigators, Kadlick says she expects the communication between nurses and doctors to get better.

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3 comments on "Resolving the Disrespect Disconnect"


Greg Mercer, MSN (3/9/2012 at 5:35 PM)
AZ Nurse Amanda Trujillo was not only disrespected for her routine patient education and advocacy, she was also fired and her license has been in limbo for a year now. Her education led a patient to seek information regrading hospice, at a potential cost to her employer (Banner Health) of hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. The Board of Nursing considering Banner's complaint against Amanda includes at least three members who work for Banner Health. In response to this corruption and the attack on Nurses' ability to advocate and educate patients free of retaliation, we have put up a Change.org petition to boycott Arizona until we see some BON changes - please check it out & help us spread the word, next Hearing is 3/19 and AZBON reauthorization is still in the Legislature - we're running out of time on this unusually opportune time for positive change. See http://www.change.org/petitions/governor-state-of-arizona-address-corrupting-factors-in-the-arizona-board-of-nursing and/or http://wp.me/p278fi-iV Thanks, Greg Mercer, MSN

pamben (3/8/2012 at 5:20 PM)
"Women are from Venus, Men are from Mars." I would love to see the survey responses separated by gender. I suspect male nurses do not feel disrespected; and female nurses working with female physicians have a lower level of disrespect than when working with male nurses. If we have trouble making the communication work in intimate relationships, why do we expect the perception to be different at work? As a female physician I often feel disrespected by male colleagues, until I watch their interaction with other docs, I get the same treatment they do...no disrespect meant. Dr. B

Bill (3/8/2012 at 4:54 PM)
I agree that there is a disconnect between what nurses perceive and what doctors think they they are communicating in their interactions with nurses. If nursing education included a rotation with physician residents, nurses would understand that increasingly demands on physicians require that they are given vital information and patient assessment quickly and accurately. What a nurse may perceive as rudeness or arrogance is simply a necessity in delivering the right care at the right time. If nursing education included a rotation with physicians and house staff (which podiatrists, chiropractors, and oral surgeons have all done at my teaching institution) nurses would have a much better understanding of why we do what we do. We are not arrogant, just overburdened.