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June 1967

The Doctor-Nurse Game

Author Affiliations

Madison, Wis
From Mendota State Hospital, Madison, Wis. Dr. Stein is now at the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky, Lexington.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1967;16(6):699-703. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1967.01730240055009

THE relationship between the doctor and the nurse is a very special one. There are few professions where the degree of mutual respect and cooperation between co-workers is as intense as that between the doctor and nurse. Superficially, the stereotype of this relationship has been dramatized in many novels and television serials. When, however, it is observed carefully in an interactional framework, the relationship takes on a new dimension and has a special quality which fits a game model. The underlying attitudes which demand that this game be played are unfortunate. These attitudes create serious obstacles in the path of meaningful communications between physicians and nonmedical professional groups.

The physician traditionally and appropriately has total responsibility for making the decisions regarding the management of his patients' treatment. To guide his decisions he considers data gleaned from several sources. He acquires a complete medical history,

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