Carole H. Martz: Nurses are ‘explainers’

May 16, 2014 

I always enjoy Elizabeth Dreesen’s musings about her personal and professional life. In her April 27 column “ Being a bearer of bad news,” she stated that she and her physicians-in-training often wished that they had an “explainer” who could come behind them after rounds to help patients better understand the distressing information they often must share.

As patients and family members are aware, there are “explainers” involved in patient care every day – they are called registered nurses! In the inpatient setting, experienced bedside nurses and advanced practice nurses continue these conversations and are present 24 hours a day, seven days a week, long after the attending physicians have gone home or to the operating room, and after the physicians-in-training have moved on to their “to do list.”

In the outpatient setting where most care is now provided, these nurses are often given more descriptive titles such as “clinical coordinators” or “nurse navigators.” These knowledgeable nurses continue these difficult conversations flavored with hope, making certain that the patient and family understand their illness and treatment.

Truly collaborative care includes nurses in the team dynamic and ensures that difficult news will continue to be explained and understood.

Carole H. Martz


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