The dedication to education, long-time traditions, and genuine compassion for others that registered nurses embody puts me in awe every time I see their professionalism in action. As a healthcare designer I have the pleasure of teaming with nurses, administrators, physicians, and patient/community representatives when programming and designing for medical facilities, large and small.

During these interactions, I have found that nurses who have been assigned to represent their departments at project-concept and work-flow meetings many times wish to act as, or be identified as, the project’s interior designer, even when there is one or more trained and registered interior designers on the team.

It is always surprising to me how many times I find myself in the position of having to explain to a participating medical staff, especially nurses, that the details and coordination needed for a completed interior design must be left to the professional interior designer(s) who’s core business is to handle these facets of a project. I find that this situation isn’t particular to an institution’s profit or nonprofit status, employee culture, or geographic region.

While touring a hospital a few years ago, I asked the hosting nurse manager and her staff who the designer or interior design firm was that did their beautiful Cardiac Unit. The response was: “We did it.”

I told our hosts that I recognized they must have made hours of contributions to the new building to help get things right, but, again, who was the interior designer that wrote the specifications, ordered the furniture, and did the drawings for the intricate flooring details, etc.?

After rephrasing the question a few times, I finally got the answer: “Oh, yes, I guess there was a nice lady that came in and helped us a few times.” My colleagues and I were appalled.

I don’t know if it’s a matter of the interior design profession not making what it does clear to the consumer and general public or the need for ownership by the dedicated nurses who are concerned about the healing environments of their patients.