For hospitals, nurses are the very public face of a facility. That also holds true for other medical settings, ranging from long-term care facilities to hospice care to home health care. To use a human analogy, doctors may be the head, but nurses are the heart and soul, blending compassion and technical expertise.
"The nurse is, oftentimes, the first person to interact with the patient in a clinical way," says Allen. "They're taking that first assessment, pulling together the patient's story, what's going on with them, why are they here and looking at all the clinical information to start putting the plan of care for that patient together."
Nurses also help set the tone for the patient's stay. And studies show that patients at ease with their surroundings typically respond better to treatment.
"How nurses greet the patient, how they respond to them, plays a big role in helping the patient feel comfortable," says Allen. "We're helping them feel confident that they're going to get the care they need, that someone is going to be watching them, and that no harm is going to come to them."