Intended for healthcare professionals


Bringing nurses and doctors closer together

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 01 March 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:617

Greater cooperation will benefit patients

  1. Norah Casey, Editora,
  2. Richard Smith, Editorb
  1. a Nursing Standard, Harrow HA1 2AX
  2. b BMJ, London WC1H 9JR

    High quality health care depends crucially on doctors and nurses working well together.1 And every day throughout the world they do. Yet centuries after the professions of nursing and medicine were founded they remain curiously apart.1 2 3 Doctors and nurses train separately, keep separate patient records,4 report to different hierarchies, read different journals, and use different jargon. Sometimes these differences result in misery and conflict.1 2 3 4 5 6 The BMJ and the Nursing Standard, for instance, recently described the sad case of a nurse who was suspended after cooperating with a doctor over the management of a disturbed elderly patient.6 7 The professions and, most importantly, patients stand to benefit from closer cooperation,1 3 8 particularly as nurses take on more work that has traditionally been undertaken by doctors.

    Nursing is currently experiencing an intense debate over its future.9 Throughout this century first doctors and then strong nursing theorists and leaders have shaped professional and public thinking about nursing. Now nurses agree that the art of nursing needs to be underpinned by a foundation …

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