Kevin Twohig M.D.

Kevin Twohig M.D.

Nurses “are the backbone of the hospital,” says Kevin Twohig, M.D. “They’re the heart, soul, eyes, ears and hands. Of course, I’m a little biased because I’m married to one.”

With more than 25 years experience in hospitals, Twohig is familiar with what nurses do and how their roles have changed over the years. There is more emphasis now on coordinated care involving physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists and staff from other areas, such as dietary, says Twohig who started at Saint Raphael’s in 1987 as a Yale pulmonary fellow and has been in private practice since 1990. And nurses in specialized areas are highly trained in the use of specific procedures, sophisticated equipment and pharmacology, he adds.

“I think nurses have assumed an increasing role in primary care in the hospital,” says Twohig, , president of the Medical Staff at Saint Raphael’s. “The nurses are there 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They can see subtle changes in patients’ behavior, cognitive functioning and vital signs and pick up problems early.”

Twohig also knows about the challenges of the job, particularly during this nursing shortage. Saint Raphael’s nursing administration does a “fantastic” job of staffing and maintaining a good nurse-to-patient ratio under challenging circumstances, he says.

Like other physicians, Twohig wishes more people would become R.N.s, but he doesn’t believe that will happen until the public’s perception of the job changes.

“Unfortunately, many people see nursing as long hours, low pay and low value. They see nurses as making beds and bringing trays, not as the primary care providers they are,” Twohig says. “The more the public recognizes nurses’ valuable role and the high level of education and training required, more people will go into the field.”

Page last updated on Oct. 23, 2008