While working as a nurse in healthcare, you’ll likely need to depend on your skills and time management. It’s safe to say nursing is a varied role that relies on personal experience and wits, and you’ll need to think on your feet a lot in some occasionally high-pressure situations!
That said, millions of nurses find working in healthcare amazingly rewarding, and a lot of this revolves around the different collaborations they build from day to day. After all, patients can’t expect to get healthier without hospital teams and clinics working together on their cases.
For all nurses are incredible sources of physical support and reassurance, they can only do so much when it comes to specific caseloads and complex care demands. That’s why, if you’re considering becoming a nurse in any healthcare setting, it’s wise to expect to work in a varied team from the get-go.
But who might you expect to work with when getting started in the world of healthcare? While you may already have a good idea of the people you’ll need to rely on to get results for your patients, here’s a breakdown of some of the most important specialists you’ll collaborate with from day to day.
While it may seem obvious, you’re always likely to work in a team of nurses if you start in a hospital or community clinic setting. While you’ll have your own workloads and specialisms, nursing teams work together to ensure patients get the individual care they need.
For example, one nurse in demand in one sector may rely on another to prepare records or liaise with a patient. It’s likely one or two nurses will typically be assigned to any given patient; however, it’s sometimes unrealistic to expect a single nurse to attend to someone’s needs 24/7! In intensive cases, it’s reasonable for nurses to work together in “shifts” to ensure a full spectrum of care is provided.
Nurses should also expect to work with each other on workloads and timetables. If you’re heading into nursing, you’ll find you work with other graduates to draw up treatment plans and best practices. You’ll collaborate on how to best deliver care for specific patients and who to communicate with to deliver the best medication and post-hospital support.
As a nurse, you’ll also find other staff in the same role to offer more than just physical support. You’ll come to rely on other nurses for psychological backup, too. To avoid burning out, you should collaborate with other nurses to ease mental pressure and look for reassurance.
Nurses may even find that working with others in the same role helps keep them grounded and focused on driving for the best results.
During your studies – for example, on an accelerated RN program online with Holy Family University – you’ll learn all about how to collaborate and communicate with your fellow nursing staff. Holy Family’s remote courses, while they may allow you to develop off-campus, still provide you with opportunities to work with others also taking the course.
When you’re starting out as a nurse, it’s reasonable to expect that you’ll keep developing while on the job. You’ll learn a huge array of skills, techniques, and ethical practices in your coursework but don’t be surprised if you collaborate with nurse educators along the way, too.
Nurse educators provide both care and tuition on the hospital floor. They are mentors and guides for many nurses who find they need a little extra support when acclimatizing to a new healthcare setting. Nurse educators will set up occasional training sessions and feedback for nurses, too, if training is required in specific settings.
Over time, you’ll come to rely less and less on nurse educators, but knowing they’re available for you to collaborate with is likely a huge relief when leaping into healthcare for the first time. In time, you may even choose to become a nurse educator yourself — it’s a fantastic career path that will enable you to share your knowledge and years of care with the next generation of nursing staff.
Within a relatively short time, you may work with junior nursing staff, even if you’ve been in nursing for less than a year. Nurses are always in demand across the US, which means an influx of new cohorts into hospitals and clinics is to be expected!
Once nurses settle into their roles and specialisms, they’ll need to start taking new graduates under their wings. As a nurse, you may even find you start mentoring students who are gaining work experience or are completing the practical sections of their programs. You were once in their shoes, after all.
You may not need to provide complete tutor support (unless you wish to be a nurse educator); however, you can expect to collaborate with junior staff to ensure they’re applying the right techniques to patient cases and keeping ethical practice in mind.
Given the fast-paced nature of healthcare no matter where you go, it’s understandable that there needs to be supervisory eyes on the ground. While the best nursing graduates hit the ground running and may not need excessive supervision, it’s always wise to have a more experienced member of the team on standby to help at short notice. That could be you!
Physicians, doctors, and consultants
It’s only natural to expect that doctors and nurses will work together, and regardless of the setting, it’s a mutually supportive and beneficial relationship worth building.
In the majority of cases, nurses will provide hands-on and direct patient care, while doctors will apply themselves to diagnosis and research. As such, working cases together in this way means both nurses and doctors need to view each other with respect and keep communication open at all times.
Nurses also work on behalf of doctors and physicians when it comes to delivering specific care plans and applying medication. In some cases, nursing staff will work purely on the advice and direction of physicians based on patient history and additional diagnoses suggested by the latter.
As a nurse, this means you’ll need to be open and receptive to instructions and advice from doctors regarding your patients. This form of collaboration within healthcare is one of the most critical, purely because it brings together some of the most talented people in the hospital or clinic to supply all-around holistic care to patients.
Nurses will need to follow the health plans and recommendations doctors’ make based on patient histories and advice from other departments. Nursing staff may even have input on care plans based on their experience with specific patients — this can prove invaluable when looking for an efficient way to deliver respite.
It’s a common misconception that doctors and nurses effectively do the same jobs. While they work together on the same cases, they must complement each other’s specialisms and respect their intuitions. This means there’s always likely to be concessions on either side – neither is superior to the other when it comes to delivering patient care!
Social workers have similar attributes and responsibilities to nurses. For example, both are responsible for managing their own caseloads, working closely with patients, and developing their own specific care plans.
In the event of a patient suffering from mental health or psychological problems, social care workers can offer insights into how they may be feeling. Social care workers will typically be assigned to specific people on a close working basis, meaning they will get to know patients well.
In the event of a patient being admitted to hospital, nurses may request the support or intervention of a social worker to provide context to a case. That means, for example, if a patient overdoses on narcotics or has experienced a psychological break, nurses can rely on social workers to help fill in the blanks.
What’s more, nurses rely on social workers to provide additional support to patients in a care setting. While nurses typically provide the interpersonal care patients expect, a social care worker is a friendly and familiar face they can rely on for additional support.
Social workers and nurses work together to ensure patients receive efficient and more tailored care for highly specific needs. For example, in cases where elderly patients are at risk of a range of potential illnesses, social carers can offer background information and reassure the patients while the nurses continue to attend to their direct medical needs.
The relationship between nurses and physical therapists is one of data sharing. Physical therapists, such as physiotherapists, for example, rely on information nurses glean from their initial examinations.
Physical therapists may ask nurses to provide x-rays and blood pressure data, for example, to help build the background of a case before providing physical care. Beyond this, therapists will often rely on nurses to provide physical assistance in the event of a patient requiring specific mobility support, for example.
Therapists will also expect nurses to give feedback on how a patient is progressing post-therapy so they can start to plan their care journey. As a nurse, you will likely collaborate with a variety of different therapists when working in a hospital, and the relationships you build will largely revolve around providing data and building a bigger picture.
In some cases, you may not need to work with physical therapists at all. If you are a patient’s primary case worker and therefore make decisions on their care, it’s ultimately your choice whether or not to include the support of physical therapy.
However, it’s always a good idea to consider reaching out for therapist support, particularly as nurses may not have the full remit or skillset to apply specialist physical care. The same applies to applying mental therapy. Nurses often find they collaborate with therapists to help provide care that they cannot.
As a nurse, you’ll frequently work with pharmacists to find medicinal solutions for patients in need of specific treatment courses. Nurses and doctors provide diagnostics and close patient care then refer to pharmacists to find and deliver the medication they need to bring patients back to full health.
The role of a pharmacist in this relationship isn’t necessarily a supply-on-demand one, however. As a nurse, you may find you rely on the specialist knowledge and experience of a pharmacist to provide knowledge on specific drugs and treatment courses.
For example, if you have a patient experiencing severe pain after a burn injury and are unsure of the best course of medicine to provide, you’ll typically liaise with a doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Pharmacists are highly skilled in finding medication and treatments that fit a wide range of patient needs and are more than happy to help if nurses have difficulty filling in specific knowledge gaps.
Over time, however, as you progress in nursing, it’s likely your relationship with pharmacists will evolve. You’ll find you rely on their support in measuring out adequate doses of medication and changing medicinal courses where appropriate.
In some cases, pharmacists may even challenge nurses with regard to the medicinal course decisions they make. This is part of the collaboration — pharmacists frequently know more in terms of drug research and application, though this might not always be the case!
Pharmacists will also advise on how often and to what extent medicine should be taken. As a nurse, you’ll need to translate and provide these details to patients so they can effectively care for themselves (in some cases). In others, you’ll need to administer medicine yourself.
Case managers and administrators
While nurses typically manage their own cases and workloads, many will work with specialized case managers to help develop care plans and map out their patients’ recoveries. Case managers are specialized nurses and have complete oversight of a patient’s journey through the healthcare system.
Case managers work with nurses to plan out routes for care and medication in line with diagnoses and immediate treatments. While some nurses will plan ahead on their own cases, managers are highly supportive when they need to focus on administering care.
Nursing case managers ensure that the care and recovery path of a patient is smooth and efficient. This not only benefits the patient but also eases the workload of nurses and the running of the healthcare provider in general.
Nurses and case managers typically work together with the same patients, though nurses will work closely with the patients themselves. Case managers may frequently observe from afar, taking a top-down view of the care provided and the potential routes for rehabilitation ahead.
As such, it’s beneficial for nurses in many cases to work with managers who have different perspectives on the cases they’re working on. Again, as mentioned, nurses themselves may also work towards a case management position, in which case, the roles converge fairly frequently.
The relationship between lab specialists and nurses is similar to that of the nurse-pharmacist partnership in the sense that nurses will approach laboratory staff for specific details on how to proceed with medication or in-house treatment beyond their remit.
Nurses will, for example, send samples such as blood and tissue to laboratories for investigation. This testing can help said nurses learn more about why a patient may be suffering in a specific way or how they may react to specific stimuli.
Laboratory specialists have many of the same goals and desires as nurses. They want to help people but may not necessarily wish to work in a hands-on capacity. Nurses will frequently bridge this gap, supplying lab knowledge and care to patients.
This relationship is mutually beneficial — lab assistants depend on data from nurses to better understand and develop the next stages of patient treatment, while nurses rely on laboratories to assess results. It’s a crucial link in the chain that most nurses will work with on a daily basis.
A collaborative career
Working as a nurse, you’ll expect to support people not only under your care but also work around you. Whether that’s preparing patients for chiropractic sessions, liaising with laboratories for blood test results, or adding context to cases via social workers, you’ll work with many different people daily.
However, this is all part of the thrill of the job. As a nurse, you work hard to ensure patients find the relief and care they need when situations may seem dire. You’ll need to work with others in healthcare to ensure you can fill knowledge gaps and keep care plans running smoothly.
This is to the benefit of not just the hospital or facility but also the long-term health and happiness of your patients. If you’re a people person, you’ll likely find working as a nurse in healthcare an attractive career proposition.