September 19, 2007, 3:07 pm – Yes, You Read That Right


Nurse Jenkins chats happily with her fiance.

Head Nurse Robinson waits to pounce on her for making personal phone calls on company time.

They both are stylin’ in their newly starched white uniforms.

Nurse Jenkins has the better cap.

Head Nurse Robinson suffers from “embedded cephalgic syndrome”. She graduated from nursing school so long ago, her cap has grown into her head, where it sits to this day. They had to bury her with it.


There is now an online forum where a nurse can rate a physician online.

That’s right. I visited the site and nurses can rate physicians on the following points:

  • Communication and rapport
  • Competence and experience
  • Convenient, efficient and responsive
  • Likely to recommend to a patient
  • Treats staff with care and respect

Did you jump up and say, “Oh man, let me go register right this minute?”

I didn’t. Maybe I’m wrong, but I see this as just one more barrier to collegial nurse/physician relationships.


Here is a quote from the press release at Business Wire:

The NursesRateDoctors online platform where nurses can anonymously join the site and provide their insights on physicians will accumulate a vast knowledge base of information critical to helping a patient seeking a provider.

This bothers me. I do not believe a doctor has a right to judge my competence and experience as a registered nurse, why should I be able to rate, anonymously, a physician on the same criteria?

I can’t fault the goal of the site. It is to help patients make good decisions on who to choose for their medical care. The best way to do that is interview, visit and choose your doctor before you need him/her. In an emergency, you get the physician on-call anyway and by then it is too late. Is a patient going to say, “Oh, wait until I check before you send me to surgery for that rupturing aneurism! I want to make sure Dr. Godly is rated highly!”?

This is not the same as a patient rating a physician. If I have a good or bad experience with a doctor as a patient, I own that experience and I can pass it along to other patients, knowing that any other ratings I read are the personal beliefs of the other patients in the practice. I can choose to believe them or take them with the proverbial grain of salt.


There is a potential for abuse with this system or at least skewed ratings. Let me give you a personal example.

The trauma physician who cared for my sister after her accident is one of the biggest asses I’ve ever met in my three decades of nursing. His bedside manner sucks. The nurses can’t stand him (a few birdies told me). The other docs think he’s a twit (an MD birdie told me that).

But that night last May he made the decision not to perform bilateral amputations when my sister had nothing holding her feet to her legs but strips of skin.

A week ago she took twenty steps on her newly built left ankle. In a month she will be able to do the same on her right.

I can’t stand this man. But, if I’m ever a trauma patient I want him at my side.

As a nurse, if I go rate this doctor he gets a “0” on three out of the five criteria. So his rating from me would be skewed because even though he is competent, he is also low on the personality meter.



With, you have one set of professionals rating the competency of an entirely different set of professionals. “Doctors aren’t nurses, nurses aren’t doctors.” How many times do we hear this, read this, say this? If the name of this site were DoctorsRateNurses the outcry would be deafening.

Nurses have opinions on our physician colleagues. We have opinions on who knows the most, who is the nicest, who is the best with patients. Doctors have their opinions about which nurses they can trust, which nurses work and which nurses like to surf the internet for half the shift.

The operative word here is opinion. asks nurses, as professionals to rate physicians. Not our personal lay opinions. The whole point is that the ratings come from professional nurses, one of the most trusted of all groups in society.

In my opinion, asking nurses to rate physicians exploits that trust.


I have a hard time balancing nurses giving professional opinions of doctors against this clause in the “Terms of Service”:


I went over to register to see what would be available to me as an RN “member” when I found this in the “fine print” in a link at the bottom of the page. I chose not to register.

It’s basically “give your professional opinion as a nurse” but the site is not intended to give advice about doctors.

Am I missing something here?


This is just a bad idea no matter how you look at it. In the final analysis doctors are accountable to their patients, not nursing, just as nursing is not accountable to medicine, but to the patient.

Nursing has been fighting a long, hard battle to be seen as a true profession. Doctors and nurses are working together for the good of the patient and the patient benefits when the relationship between doctors and nurses is one of open communication.

NursesRateDoctors does nothing to advance any of this.

As a nursing professional, I am embarrassed by the concept.

Here is the link to I’m interested in how you feel about it.


  • Mother Jones RN

    September 19, 2007 at 4:41 pm

    I’m not going to register with this website. I don’t like their Terms of Service, and many of these sites sell email addresses and other information to spammers. I became suspicious of these sites when I started getting a flood of spam in a little used email account after I registered as a user at Nursing Not every site is underhanded, but you can’t be too careful. Thanks for the information, Kim.

  • TC

    September 19, 2007 at 8:51 pm

    Well, I can’t say I’m surprised that somebody dreamed this up, but it sounds like an excuse to bash doctors. I guess I’m not even interested in checking it out.

  • Beth

    September 20, 2007 at 3:24 am

    I agree with you wholeheartedly, Kim. Very well said. You really hit the nail on the head when you said “asking nurses to rate physicians exploits that trust.”

    What’s even more disturbing is that Sandy Summers, executive director of the Center for Nursing Advocacy actually serves as an adviser for the company that produces this site.

  • Sheepish

    September 20, 2007 at 7:12 am

    This is not the only website of that nature – I have pointed out a few more on my blog. They generally attract people who are either very very happy or very very unhappy with a certain doctor… and it is only human nature that unhappy people complain loudly, while happy people praise quietly.

  • Candy

    September 20, 2007 at 7:35 am

    Amen, Kim! Most people don’t comment after a good experience, especially in healthcare — they just want to move one. They’re more likely to bitch following a bad experience. So imagine the pressure to tattle on a nurse who witnesses a doc who’s not having the best day, one who NEVER has a great day, or another who always brings donuts but no real doctoring skills.

    I don’t even like the concept of nurses rating other nurses online, or docs rating other docs — everything submitted would or could be taken out of context. There’s no quicker way to break up a team than to have the players taking jabs at each other.

  • Markie

    September 20, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    As usual you articulated my thoughts. Note to self: put extra layer of tinfoil on nursing cap.

    And we’re not one of the most trusted professions, we’re IT baby!

    If the dial went to 10, I’d rate you an 11.

  • StudentNurseJack

    September 21, 2007 at 7:11 am

    Can you imagine the outrage if doctors started up a website rating the nurses they work with?

    Agree with your anecdotal insight. I don’t need for doctors to be Mr or Ms. Personality, for the most part. I do need to be heard, taken seriously, and treated with respect. I also need that doctor to be damn good at what he or she does, for my own best potential outcome or for those of another patient.

  • Margaret

    September 24, 2007 at 7:59 am

    I agree with you that nurses should stay away from this site. A professional opinion should be, well, professional and you should be willing to attach your name to it. If not, it’s heresay or (worse) slander, or you should talk to your lawyer about it.
    There is enough ranting an slandering going on on the Internet on individual blogs.
    As far as your suggestion to go and interview a doctor before establishing a relationship, my insurance won’t pay for that and I can’t afford the kind of money that doctors’ offices charge for a visit, so that is probably not a realistic suggestion. Besides, what am I supposed to ask “Hello, what is your lawsuit rate?”
    I have no solution, but then I try to not complain too loud either.
    And I still love your blog.

  • […] Bartleby wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerptThis is not the same as a patient rating a physician. If I have a good or bad experience with a doctor as a patient, I own that experience and I can pass it along to other patients, knowing that any other ratings I read are the personal … […]

  • Howard

    September 28, 2007 at 10:21 am

    I agree wholeheartedly with your thoughts. This would simply act as a wedge between two group of health care professionals who need to work very hard together to improve the care the patient receives.

    As an Orthopedist I recognized very early on the importance of cultivating the relationships I have had with many nurse colleagues. When the “team” functions well, many other things fall in place and the patients win.

  • Sandy Summers

    October 29, 2007 at 10:42 am

    I’m having trouble posting this. Please forgive me if it gets posted twice.

    My name is Sandy Summers. I am the executive director of the Center for Nursing Advocacy and I serve as an advisor to CareSeek and its website

    I believe that this website is an admirable effort to start to redress the public’s undervaluation of nursing and imbalance of respect. I understand that there is some concern that putting forward nurses’ views of advanced practitioner care may create division between nurses and physicians, but in fact, professionals from all walks of life are subject to this kind of evaluation, including physicians. I feel that this will not be a problem. In addition, the project will serve the vital interests of:

    the public, in learning about getting better health care; and

    nurses, in getting avenues to share their expertise and implicitly argue for the resources they need to resolve the nursing crisis, which costs lives.

    Despite the name, other health workers such as social workers, physical therapists, pharmacists and even other advanced providers themselves are also allowed to rate advanced providers on the website.

    Some have argued that if nurses rate physicians then physicians should be able to rate nurses. In my view, both physicians and nurses are qualified to express views of the professional abilities of their health care colleagues within sensible limits. Lay people express their views about health care workers and other professionals. So I see no reason why physicians could not express their views about what they could reasonably observe about nurses.

    You’re right that nursing and medicine are two autonomous professions. But nurses evaluate the care physicians when we evaluate the progress of our patients about whom we share responsibility.

    It’s also not evident that having nurses evaluate physician care at least in some defined categories will degrade our relations with them. The reason is that there are already significant ratings of providers and here are some examples. There is that incorporates opinions from physicians and patients; and, which incorporates comments from anyone interested in posting. US News and World Report and many other outlets focus on physicians evaluating other physicians, but this fills a different and critical niche–it’s not about creating division, but as they say, improving communication among providers. Rating or ranking people who provide vital work is not new. Nurses give advice on advanced practitioners to family, friends and neighbors all the time. The internet is a broader forum in which to publish these views, no doubt. The public can also review ratings of other professionals such as auto mechanics, IT professionals and others. It is not clear to me why anyone who provides a public service, including nurses, should be held free from critique or scrutiny, especially since the net result of health care clinical practice can lead to vital health or a torturous death.

    Yes, nursing evaluations are opinion, but when we see 50 patients from the same physician do poorly or do well, it’s more than just a personality difference that we are ranking, it’s about making a professional evaluation of a health intervention, namely, the care of an advanced provider. If we applied a certain type of bandage or health technology to 50 patients in a row and they all did poorly, our patients would appreciate knowing about such a dangerous intervention so they could avoid it. Learning about it would also increase the trust–and more importantly–the respect the public has in nurses. Because even though nurses rate highly in public trust, that trust doesn’t translate into true respect as evidenced by the abysmal funding for nursing clinical practice, education or research.

    In addition, nurses do have a unique perspective in evaluating the care of advanced practitioners that has been almost totally overlooked. No one else can offer that patient-focused perspective. The reality is that nurses’ perspective has historically been ignored and in many ways continues to be.

    I would actually welcome a website that ranked nurses because it would symbolize the beginning of an era where nurses were seen to provide life-saving, outcome-improving work that matters. Of course I don’t think such a website is likely to happen, but if the public did know enough to choose health care based on the quality of RN care, nurses would have to be open to evaluation by informed colleagues.

    Some have argued that patients should choose advanced providers by interviewing them before making a choice. But before interviewing, why not be able to narrow down the field? And it seems unlikely to me that many people actually interview their healthcare providers except maybe to find a first time pediatric provider. And even if you do pre-interview, it’s generally not while you’re in ill health, so you don’t have a true basis on which to judge. The interview is not going to guarantee good care.

    Of course, in case of emergency surgery you’re often at the mercy of whichever hospital you end up at. But most interactions with the health care system are planned and therefore, you can consult the website if you are able. Even in a moderate emergency, a friend or family member could check the ratings for you, as they wait idle in the waiting room.

    Then there’s the argument that patients own their experiences as personal beliefs. Yet nurses also own the experiences they gain by working with physicians and other advanced providers. It’s not like we expunge these from our brains at the end of each shift.

    Regarding the surgeon with horrendous people skills who some think deserves to be given a top rating across the board just because his technical skills may have save the limbs of loved ones, it’s great that this man was helpful and has some wonderful talent. But there are many other skilled surgeons in the world who also save lives and improve outcomes, some of whom can even relate well to other human beings. By your own admission, this man doesn’t deserve excellent ratings in all categories. And if you had a choice between this man and another surgeon who was rated highly in all five categories, wouldn’t you choose the other person?

    The executives managing the website have taken a look at this language ” THIS WEBSITE IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE … ADVICE ABOUT DOCTORS, NURSES OR OTHER HEALTHCARE PROVIDERS” and I believe they have changed it based on your feedback. See, your opinion matters and people take action based on it! 🙂

    In regards to whether or not participating in this rating system is degrading our professionalism–if anything, having people ask for our professional opinion only increases the perception of nursing professionalism. With the website, nurses are opening lines of communication with the patient. And if physicians learn that nurses are rating them publicly, I hope this will encourage those of them who behave abusively toward us to clean up their behavior. If people think they can abuse others and keep it private with no public scrutiny, abuse often continues.

    I hope nurses are not “embarrassed” by providing important information about care and helping patients in this way. Nursing, more than anything else, is about patient advocacy. This website helps us to advocate for our patients by finding them safe and effective health care providers. In fact, with this tool at our disposal, I think nurses could see participation in this public rating process as an obligation to our patients. To hide dangerous physicians is to fail to protect those who need us. Let us rate the good highly and shine a light on those who are dangerous so we can improve health care for all.

    Sandy Summers, RN, MSN, MPH
    Executive Director
    The Center for Nursing Advocacy
    203 Churchwardens Rd.
    Baltimore, MD USA 21212-2937
    office 1-410-323-1100
    fax 1-443-705-0260

  • Alan

    June 29, 2010 at 10:41 am

    You have rightly asked, “why should I be able to rate, anonymously, a physician on the same criteria?” I think the operative word here is “anonymously.” Too much feeling and anomosity can enter into such a critique and the patient does not get the accurate appraisal he seeks.

  • Matt Tragna

    July 15, 2011 at 1:33 pm

    another site that allows anonymous postings and ratings of doctors is i’m not sure if that makes people post more or less than if they had to login and show who they are before posting a comment that might be negative

About Me

My name is Kim, and I'm a nurse in the San Francisco Bay area. I've been a nurse for 33 years; I graduated in 1978 with my ADN. My experience is predominately Emergency and Critical Care, and I have also worked in Psychiatry and Pediatrics. I made the decision to be a nurse back in 1966 at the age of nine...

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