A hospital visit can potentially incorporate many different disciplines throughout the day, including doctors, the pharmacy, nutrition services, physical and occupational therapies. It's the nurse, however, who provides care morning, noon and night -- constantly assessing the patient's condition and needs [source: Allen].
"We're with the patient longer," says Pat Karzouniaris, a registered nurse with Partners Health care at Home. "That's part of the reason why we're put in a different position than physicians. Physicians only have 15 minutes or so for a patient." Nurses, on the other hand, can spend more time with patients -- in homes for a half hour to an hour, and at hospitals, several times during their shift. This extra time often helps patients identify more with a nurse than with a physician.
Nurses aren't the only medical team members that go the extra mile, but they traditionally incorporate that extra effort into their job description.
"When you go into the hospital and you're super sick, you're put on a certain drug regimen by your physician, and then the nurses care for you," says Krysia Hudson, a registered nurse and instructor with the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing. "The medical model is to treat and cure at that point in time."
But when that -- or the treatment -- doesn't work, she says, it's often the nurses who detect the subtle signs and symptoms that could indicate an onset of a more serious problem, while taking care not to alarm their patients.