Docs and nurses: can we play nicely together?

I read the July AJN article about residents' attitudes toward nurses with increasing dismay. Seems that residents think nurses are there to plump pillows and carry out orders and that they couldn't tell the difference between CNAs and RNs. This bothered me. Part of it was plain defensiveness: I'm smart TOO. I work hard TOO. If it weren't for nurses, doctors wouldn't have eyes and ears on the patients at all times. Doctors would have no safety net. All true, but it felt to me like stamping my foot and sticking my lower lip out, and I examined my reaction further. Am I really defensive? Is there a need to be? I really don't want to be a doctor. Nurses aren't doctors who just couldn't cut it. I don't doubt my ability to do it; I just don't have the drive and dedication. In some ways, nursing is taking the easy way out if you want to be in health care, because you can have a complex and rewarding job while skipping spending a decade of your life in school and $100,000 in student loans (I only skipped 3 years of my life and spent $30,000). Furthermore, I haven't seen this broken down anywhere, but I wonder how much more money per hour doctors actually pull down when you figure in all the on-call hours. They appear to work all the time. This is admirable, but it's not the life I want. I bring work home, but they like literally BRING WORK HOME. I'd rather wipe butt than be on call all the time. Obviously, since I do!

The work I do requires a different skill set. I think the initial defensiveness occurred because occasionally I envy the doctors when I see them doing their thing---rocking and rolling with codes or troubleshooting crazy diagnoses. I love that stuff, and although some doctors listen to nurses' ideas, most don't, and I wonder if those who do are humoring us for the purpose of collegiality. However, I am good at doing my thing---treating the patient while the docs treat the disease. I like having time to talk to people (sometimes), and since I spend far more time both with the patient and with the patient's chart/history, I actually am in a position to bring things up quite often that have been missed. I enjoy the opportunity for thoroughness.

Also, the major issue for me is this: I worry constantly about making mistakes and have a poor risk tolerance. Doctors have a ton of responsibility that I just would not want.

That said, it seems to me that both fields have a lot to learn and that both need to develop more respect. There are some physicians' names that make eyes roll at the very mention. Probably it's the same with nurses. And we get mad when they make no effort to consider our workflow, but how often do we consider theirs? I do, but it's mostly from self-interest. I want orders before 10 PM so I don't have to wake anyone up because I don't want to get yelled at.

The article leaves much to think on. I'm dubious that true egalitarianism can exist between theses professions, but surely the complementarity can be better recognized and respected.