Fostering Nurse–Physician Collaboration Through Shared Experience: An Innovative Program Fosters Appreciation for Nurses

Sarah Low, MSN, RN, OCN, CMSRN; Emily Gray, MSN, RN-BC; Amanda Ewing, MD, FACP; Patricia Hain, MSN, RN-BC, NE-BC, FACHE; Linda Kim, PhD, MSN, RN, PHN, CPHQ


Am Nurs Journal. 2022;17(2) 

In This Article

X Marks the Spot

Mean age for medical residents was 28 years, with the largest percentage identifying as Asian (n=90, 55.2%) and White (n=52, 31.90%). Nurse preceptors' mean age was 35 years, with the largest percentage identifying as White (n=28, 40.6%) and Asian (n=20, 29%). Most nurses reported having a bachelor of science in nursing (n=48, 75%) or a master's in nursing (n=11, 20.80%). (View demographic data at

Medical resident and nurse preceptor characteristics
The following table displays demographic data of first-year medical residents and nurse preceptors who participated in Nurse for a Day.
Residents (n=163) Nurse preceptors (n=75)*
n (%) Median age (SD) n (%) Median age (SD)
Age (years) 27.9 (2.6) 35.08 (8.0)
Female 65 (39.9%) 63 (84%)
Male 98 (60.1%) 12 (16%)
Asian 90 (55.2%) 20 (29.0%)
White 52 (31.9 %) 28 (40.6%)
Hispanic/Latino 4 (2.5%) 9 (13.0%)
Black 3 (1.8 %) 4 (5.8%)
Other 14 (8.59%) 8 (11.6%)
MD157 (95.9%)
DO 5 (3.1%)
MD/PhD 1 (1%)
BSN 48 (75%)
MSN 11 (20.8%)
AND 5 (7.8 %)
ADN = associate degree in nursing, BSN = bachelor of science in nursing, DO = doctor of osteopathic medicine, MD = doctor of medicine, MSN = master of science in nursing, PhD = doctor of philosophy
*Due to missing data, results don't total the full nursing sample (n=75).

Feedback from residents included the top lessons they learned about nurses during the experience. The top two lessons frequently overlapped and included an appreciation of the difficulty of the nursing job (42.45%) and the busyness of the role (27.36%). Residents wrote that "patients can be really mean to nurses," that "[nurses] are on their feet all day long," and "I learned how busy they are on a minute-to-minute basis and how demanding their job can be!" The third most common lesson was understanding the nurse's role/workflow (25.47%). For instance, one resident stated, "I learned that the nurses do so much more than any of the doctors even know." The residents also recognized nurses as the frontline caregivers (21.70%), saying, "they are the face of the care that we provide," and "after all the deliberation behind closed doors, the nurses are the ones who finally deliver the care."

When asked to name the best feature of the program, residents pointed to learning the nurse's role/workflow (51.89%), experiencing nursing skills (33.96%), gaining the nurse perspective (22.69%), and learning how an order is carried out (15.09%). Comments included, "I liked just getting to know the day-to-day work-flow that [nurses] do [such as] how to trouble-shoot things like I.V. pumps and tube feeds," "I enjoyed seeing the workflow from a nurse perspective," and "The most interesting part for me was seeing how an order placed by a physician is verified, actuated, and administered by the different members of the healthcare team."

Resident feedback related to themes that will impact their future practice included understanding the nurses' role/workflow (35.85%), improving nurse–physician communication (MD 58.9%, RN 29.25%), and improving orders (28.30%). Comments included, "It will give me insight into how a nurse receives the care plan and the important role they play in providing care" and "I think it will help me talk with nurses as well." A number of residents specifically referenced bundling lab orders, making statements such as, "I will try to order all of my lab tests at the same time so that they do not need to do multiple sticks and irritate/hurt the patient."

Residents and nurses thought the program would improve interprofessional communication (MDs 29.25%, RNs 35.90%). One resident stated, "Now I think that I will have a more open communication with nurses and be more proactive in keeping the nurses on the same page." Of those who said their personal communication would be improved, 19% (n=6) specifically stated they would increase communication frequency. One resident said, "[The program] increases my propensity to communicate more often with nurses." Similarly, a nurse stated, "[The program] helps nurses to know how to have better interdisciplinary conversations with physicians."

Nurses also reported feeling more empowered to interact with physicians (17.95%). One wrote that the program would impact their practice as a nurse by "being able to proactively make suggestions with patients' overall care and needs with [physicians]."