Our nursing jobs require us to speak with physicians about our patients. But how many of us have anxiety over calling the physician on behalf of our patients? All of us, at one time in our careers, have been nervous. Our palms itch while we recite in our head exactly what we would like from the MD.

Relax! One of the most supportive things we do for our patients is having those crucial conversations with our MDs. Being a patient advocate does not need to put a strain on the nurse-physician relationship. After all, we are all on the same team.

But if the relationship you have with a particular physician is a strained one, then you are not alone. It comes with the territory. Here are some tips to improve the nurse-physician relationship:

  1. Use the SBAR (subjective, background, assessment, and recommendation) technique when communicating with a physician. This will allow a quick systematic approach to ultimately getting the orders you need to take care of your patients.
  2. Make sure you are communicating with the physician that is best trained to handle your request. Patients could have five different consultants on their case. So if you are calling a physician about post-op bleeding, make sure you call the surgeon. If you just need to adjust some medication orders call the generalist on the case, and so on and so forth.
  3. Ask a co-worker what they would do and say. Some nurses may have a better relationship with certain physicians than others. Ask around and get opinions from a more experienced nurse or maybe a nurse that has been in the system longer.
  4. Keep your eye on the prize. Before you dial the number or stop him/her in the hall, you should already know the answer. Your suggestion should be exactly what orders you need. Physicians are not at the bedside so they need a gentle guide as to what and why you are requesting.
  5. Chart it! Make sure you notate the call and the subject if orders were or were not received. It only takes one time for them to learn that you also know how to C.Y.A.