Learning to Value the Entire Medical Team
March 10, 2017
Medicine is a field that truly relies on the entire medical team to operate effectively—from physicians to nurses of all cultural backgrounds and genders. Thus, it’s important for all physicians to be aware of and value what each group contributes so as not to compromise the quality of patient care provided.
Here are the many ways nurses, minorities, and women contribute to the medical team and field overall:
Nurses are the backbone of the medical team
As busy physicians, it can be tempting to look past or look down up the nurses on your team. This is a big mistake for many reasons. First of all, nurses undergo an incredibly trying nursing school curriculum, which says a lot for those who make it through to the end. They are also likely to be the ones who teach you basic medical skills during your residency, not to mention nurses make it possible for you to do your job in general later on.
In addition to being book smart, nurses also have a unique intuition that allows them to connect with their patients on a deeper level. While physicians are often more utilitarian in their interaction with patients, nurses spend time getting to know each person, which determines overall patient satisfaction. They will also become some of your best confidants and sources of emotional support on the job.
IMGs are essential to health care in the U.S.
When referring to IMGs (International Medical Graduates), the term “minority” is hardly appropriate. IMGs currently account for a third of all physicians in the U.S. Thus welcoming these students into our medical schools and hospitals is not just a privilege for them—it’s a necessity for all of us who benefit from their extraordinary level of expertise.
Recent studies have found “hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries under the care of internists who graduated from medical school outside the United States had lower 30-day mortality compared with patients cared for by graduates of US medical schools.”
What’s more is that 25% of US physicians come from other countries. Thus, the recent travel ban may ultimately result in more lives lost if the strongest, most qualified new doctors are unable to enter the country.
Women doctors continue to outperform for less pay
Though gender disparity in medicine still exists, women continue to outperform their male counterparts. For example, one study showed “approximately 32,000 fewer patients would die if male physicians could achieve the same outcomes as female physicians every year.” It also showed women to be more evidence-based in their practice while also having more empathy towards their patients—the best of both worlds.
Still, for various reasons not related to ability, men seem to have the advantage. A recent study showed that women always score higher their first year of medical school, but by third year are out-scored by their male counterparts: “One way to interpret our findings is that a widening gender gap is attributable to the cumulative effects of repeated disadvantages and biases that become increasingly pronounced at the more senior levels of training,” the authors wrote.
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