Regarding the Q&A with Dr. Robert Wah, the new American Medical Association president, “Doctors should be captain of the ship,” I wish to offer a more contemporary view that patients and families want the provider who is best prepared to meet their needs and preferences to lead the healthcare team, and the role of leader may shift over time and episodes of care.
At times, the physician will be the leader, but it might also be the nurse, pharmacist, therapist or nutritionist. If we are truly focused on person- and family-centric care, we place priority on who can best meet their needs.
Transformation in our healthcare system also calls for new roles and practices. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act increases access, emphasizes preventive, wellness and primary-care services, and improves care coordination—areas where nurses excel. To be successful, patients must be at the center of innovative care models featuring a team of healthcare professionals working in concert. Nurses are called upon to be leaders and full partners with physicians and other healthcare professionals in delivering efficient and effective care, as recommended in the 2010 Institute of Medicine's “Future of Nursing” report.