5 Things New Nurses Need to Know About Calling Doctors and other Health Providers
Yep, we know that communication in the healthcare profession is a must and should never be taken for granted. We have been lectured so many times about therapeutic and effective communication in nursing school. And by now, we can almost recite communication techniques without fail. However, what others fail to understand is that though it is important that we communicate with and call for help from other members of the healthcare team, there are still some things that we need to consider. Here are a few things nurses must first know about when calling doctors and other healthcare providers:
- Get straight to the point, and do not engage in chit chat.
Do remember that every second is important when on clinical duty and just like you, they, physicians and other members of the healthcare team are also busy carrying out their respective tasks. Use the SBAR method: situation, background, assessment, and recommendation. Getting straight to the point will save you some time instead of beating around the bush and/or talking about things not related to the subject matter.
- Know your patient’s condition
Always come prepared. Have a set of vital signs and allergies, no matter what you are calling for, including patient weight, especially in pediatrics. Don’t just go “What’s patient X’s latest BP reading?” “Uhh, I don’t know, doc. Wait. I’ll check.” Also, know your patient’s history in case the provider on call isn’t familiar with them.
- Clarify orders specifically before hanging up the phone.
Never assume especially when it comes to doctor’s orders taken by phone. You might mistake one drug for another, which can lead to serious complications. Also, find a quiet spot to make the call as much as possible. And if the provider is talking too quietly, don’t hesitate to make them speak up. Remember, as a healthcare provider, you are dealing with actual lives and not just dummies. Always read back the order, even if they are in a hurry. Most hospitals require “read back” to be documented.
- Ask when in doubt.
Do not let fear or shyness keep you from confronting a doctor or provider. If there’s something that’s bothering you regarding their actions or orders, ask them, but do it in a nice and professional way. Remember that you are a health professional, too. It is okay to give your opinion on what should be done as your assessment is just as valid as theirs is.
- Always be polite, even if they aren’t.
There will always be those providers who feel so superior that they may treat you unkindly especially if you are a newbie nurse. Do not let this get to you. Deal with this as professionally as you can. Be assertive and firm if you need to, however don’t become aggressive. However, if a doctor or provider is very out of line, document with an incident report, tell the charge nurse, and be sure your nurse manager is aware of their behavior. Also, do not forget to thank them for their time. Yes, it’s their job and you know it, but still, a simple thank you can go a long way.