Nurses and Nurses Week

An internist, a family physician, and a nurse walk into an innovation meeting….

Last week, at the Innovation Learning Network in person meeting we experienced “person down,” with one of our colleagues experiencing a significant health issue on site. Luckily Lyle “Dr. Lyle” ( @drlyle1 ) Berkowitz was present and did a quick assessment and established that the condition was not life threatening. The family physician (me) added thinking around immediate comfort and positioning. Then Marilyn Chow, a nurse, came.

As Lyle and I discussed the drug regimen and the likely possibilities of the problem, Marilyn got in around us and went directly the patient. She touched the patient, took a detailed history, and began relaxation and visualization exercises, without missing a beat.

This is the most recent example of the skill and talent that nurses bring to health care that I have experienced. There are many many more. Nurses are professionals in their own right; they often solve problems that physicians cannot, with skills that physicians don’t have. This is on purpose, we are a team.

As I thought about this, I saw on Kaiser Permanente’s internal social network that it’s National Nurses Week, and that KP has set up a special website to honor the 47,000 nurses here, and 3,000,000 Registered Nurses nationwide. That’s what prompted me to write this post.

The physicians who I most respect and admire are the ones who bring in all members of the team (including the patient) by understanding what they do, what they are good at, how they help heal people better. I am seeing this a trend with medical groups on a systemwide scale and … it’s awesome.

I feel the same way when it comes to social media. I have been writing recently about physicians and social media; however, same idea applies, more partnership is better, and nurses do contribute uniquely to this medium (see: Social Media, New Technology and Total Health – Nurses are Social )

I was fortunate to train at a place where nurses and doctors refer to each other by first name. I thought “I like this” when I first experienced it; now I know that the highest level of respect you can provide someone is to treat them as your equal.

I try, whenever possible, to shadow nurses when I shadow doctors. If you are wondering what you can do to learn about the contribution of nurses to health and health care, I recommend that you shadow the nurses around you, too – you can learn 10 new things in 10 minutes, I guarantee it.

And, I do always get inspired by nursing leaders like Marilyn Chow who affirm the need and importance of nurses, and all of the nurses I have ever known, for teaching, training, learning, and occasionally rebooting me.

Happy Nurses Week, also happy Nurses Day, Month, Year, hour, minute, second. Can’t wait to watch and work with the single largest health care workforce as they continue to co-lead improvements in health and health care!

(PS you can send a special Nurses Week e-card to the nurses you know at the Happy Nurses Week website as well)


….and to think, we got to learn about innovation also. That @healthcareILN is just full of incredible experiences and people!

Thank you, Dr. Ted Eytan, for your wonderful posting acknowledging the contributions of nurses. As a professional nurse, I greatly appreciate physicians who value collaboration and the unique contributions each member of the health care team brings to the whole patient care experience. It is also such a privilege to work at the National Patient Care Services under Marilyn Chow's leadership.

Hi Maria,

Thank you for the kind words and for the support for the whole patient experience. And definitely call me "Ted" from now on, as your professional colleague!

Best regards…

Ted, great story here. On the theme of Nurses Week and honoring nurses, I thought I would share a couple of ideas for recognition from a speaker (and former nurse) I work with – dianesieg – in case any Nurse Administrators are reading and looking for low-cost/no-cost ideas for this year: 1) Contact your local newspaper or tv station to interview a staff nurse for Nurses Week, 2) Involve the nurses and have them write an appreciative note to someone they pick out of a hat on their unit. More ideas from Diane on our blog at

Ted Eytan, MD