Jennifer Suhd-Brondstatter

We’re the eyes and ears

Jennifer talks about how the role of the nurse has evolved and how they are a critical component of patient care.

portrait of Jennifer Suhd-Brondstatter, nurse at UC Davis Health


And I think the role's changed a lot. So actually, I do not think, I know the role's changed a lot over the years. Traditionally, we think of the doctor writes orders, the nurse helps with going to the bathroom and hands the patient the meds and that's about it. That's kind of the stereotypical... And gives the shots. A lot of what I'm doing is medication management, especially from an ICU level. So I'm actually looking at medications, titrating medications, figuring out compatibilities, how they run, how to best optimize them for my patient. We have parameters and then we work within them to juggle. We're the eyes and the ears for doctors, especially with the way modern medicine has gone. Doctors are spending less and less time with the patients, especially in the inpatient setting. They have more and more patient loads. So we're the ones that would say, "Hey, look. This is a change. I noticed that this is turning this way and this is going that way." So you're looking at trends, you're looking at what's going on.

We're the safety net for the patient. We're checking every order, we're checking not only is pharmacy and the doctors checking, but you're responsible for checking and actually you're liable for it. You can't just say, "Oh, the doctor wrote it and I gave it." So you're checking for safety, you're advocating for the patient. Not everything we do is always in the patient's best interests sometimes, and you're really the voice for, "No, this is not what that patient wants." You speak up for them. You help them navigate the system. You help them navigate the teams of doctors. You help be a liaison between the teams. You are the one that talks with the family the most. The doctors give the update and there's so often, in my experience, the families come back and they're like, "They were talking and I have no idea. It just was too much or too fast or too..." So you're translating in a lot of ways. So it's this very interesting role of kind of you're a little bit of everything. You help with the RT, you help with the doctor, you help with the medicine, you help with the family, you help with the social work. And then you also do the physical care as well.