Editorials

Doctors and nurses: doing it differently

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.320.7241.1019 (Published 15 April 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1019

The time is ripe for a major reconstruction

  1. Jane Salvage, nursing director,
  2. Richard Smith, editor
  1. Emap Healthcare, Nursing Times, London NW1 7EJ
  2. BMJ

    Additional articles on doctors and nurses working together appear in this week's Nursing Times and on its website www.nursingtimes.net

    The relationship between doctors and nurses has never been straightforward. The differences of power, perspective, education, pay, status, class, and—perhaps above all—gender have led to tribal warfare as often as peaceful coexistence. Nurses'readiness to be slighted and doctors' reluctance to be challenged create an undercurrent of tension. Thismay be masked in practice settings by the pressing need to get the work done, but it is there.

    The newly arrived interplanetary traveller might find this puzzling. Two groups of people sharing an apparently identical goal, to serve patients, might be assumed to get along well. They might also be assumed to have some interest in exploring the relationship if it needs maintenance. But in reality, although a major reconstruction is now required, sensibledebate between doctors and nurses is scarce.

    This has prompted Nursing Times and the BMJ to try to advance the discussions. When we conceived this project nearly 18 months ago, we had no inkling that it would be so topical. Now …

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