Nurses Rule, Doctors Drool: Why nurses are better than doctors to be the front door of healthcare, by Dr. Igor

Need health information or want help deciding if your health concerns should be seen at the ER? Look to a nurse. Searching for a better way for patients to interact with your health offering or system? Look to a nurse.

Yup, I’m a doctor. Yup, I think nurses are better than doctors for patients at the very beginning of their illness journey. That’s right, you heard me, I’m not scared to say it. 🙄 They just are. 😏 When Jen or Trevor get sick and are uncertain about what they have, who they should see, and where they should go, nurses are the perfect place to start. For so many reasons (see below), nurses should be the first go to, not doctors.

Doctors aren’t trained for patient triage

Doctors spend years learning about diagnoses, medications, the complex biology happening behind the scenes to cause illness, and the art required to discover the proper diagnosis. We’re very good about taking in a lot of information and narrowing it down (sometimes with extra tests and specialists) to a few specific diagnoses. However, this isn’t always needed! Oftentimes, all a person needs is to be heard, supported, and have their nerves calmed. Maybe by being told that they only have a simple, basic problem that could be cared for at home. No need for urgent trips to the office or the ER. No need for a specific diagnosis or medication.

Unfortunately, not all doctors are great at (1) listening, (2) supporting, and (3) helping people relax and feel reassured. Yes, we are slowly getting better at it! But, we still have a long way to go! And, remember, that’s not what our medical education focuses on – first and foremost, we have to be really good at getting the diagnosis right! 🙂

Ask a nurse first and get proper guidance

Now, take nurses instead. Nurses spend years WITH patients learning about the whole patient – both the illness/diagnosis part as well as how to deal with the human part. Nurses are constantly at the patient’s bedside communicating with family members. They answer their crazy friends’ text messages 24/7, helping them calm down when they realize their health concern really isn’t much of a concern. They always go above and beyond to ensure their patients understand what’s going on. It’s no wonder society trusts nurses more than any other profession. Being a good listener, supporting patients, and helping people relax is literally at the core of every nurse’s training. 😍

Unfortunately, some have decided that the front door to healthcare should be a doctor (or worse yet, an impersonal A.I. bot 😜). Most venture firms think doctors are what all patients want and many for-profit healthcare companies think the same. But, what do patients actually want? Well, the data says they want more help in deciding what they want. 😂

Dr. Google isn’t enough

Dr. Google has 100 billion health searches annually, which tells me patients aren’t sure about what they should do. 😂 If they wanted a doctor, they could have had one quickly and easily by pulling up a video visit, scheduling an appointment with their PCP, stopping by urgent care, or visiting the ER. But, they are starting on Google – the current front door to healthcare. Interestingly enough, our research has shown that these Google searches contain the modifier ‘nurse’ 3 times more than the modifier ‘doctor’ when people search for health advice. Surprising, isn’t it?

Forward-thinking healthcare entities and investors will realize that replacing Google with a doctor is nearly impossible, and a poor choice. First off, the cost of making doctors the front door is way too high. There are also not enough of us to support the demand (some estimate 3 nurses/nurse practitioners for every 1 doctor in the United States). Lastly, take in what I said above – nurses are better equipped to provide the compassionate support that patients need at this early (and vulnerable) stage in their journey.

If given the proper tools, nurses can drive patient engagement, proper utilization

Nurses are literally trained to deal with this exact problem. Their level of training and scope of practice is perfect for helping patients early in their illness journey. Often times they are underpaid😡, which makes them more cost-effective (😂). They are a larger workforce (and growing faster than doctors). And, because they are the most trusted profession, they are also strong influencers! 😎

If a parent is worried and wants to take her kid to the ER because he has cold symptoms, a Google search or even a chatbot will never change her mind. A video visit may help, but based on what the parent read on Google, she might be worried he needs to be seen in-person instead. If a nurse, after building rapport, tells her she is better off coming to the clinic or using telemedicine, she’ll be far more likely to listen. Trust, empathy, and influence beat Google or health chatbots every time.

Nurses— The best solution

Nurses are the perfect combination for healthcare’s front door 🙂 trusted, compassionate, personable, and knowledgeable. 😍 Yet, for some reason, we’ve stuck this incredibly talented workforce behind the wrong technology – the telephone. Today, despite text messaging in nearly every facet of life, patients still have to call in order to speak to a nurse. Usually, it’s not just a call, it’s leaving a voicemail followed by waiting anxiously by the phone to get a call back without knowing how long the wait might be. 🙄

Remember when we used to wait for taxis after calling them? Anxiously waiting and checking our watches, never knowing if they are actually going to show up or not. Now, we wouldn’t dream to take a Lyft/Uber without knowing it’s exact ETA and seeing its progress in real time.

Don’t patients AND nurses deserve better?

At Nurse-1-1, we believe we’ve found the perfect technology to leverage this unique workforce.

I’m a doctor and I say nurses are better than doctors when it comes to being healthcare’s first point of entry. Given the right tools, nurses will positively impact our growing problem of unnecessary ER visits, high healthcare costs, and uninformed patients.

– Igor Shumskiy, MD

Nurse-1-1 Health Center is written by nurses in a straight to the point type of way to provide basic health information. We get a lot of people like you searching online for answers to health concerns or looking for a hotline to ask a nurse a few questions. Questions like, I have been suffering from headache and fatigue for a while. Should I be worried? What is the the difference between a common cold vs flu? Is fever in kids bad? Well we can help. We put some info here for you to find while searching through all that other dry, scary medical information online. Stop that. Read our posts, or chat with us. This is not medical advice or a replacement for medical care, but see what we have to say with our free health information, and hopefully it will stop you from scaring yourself any more than you already have. We can help.