Interprofessional Collaboration and Nurses
Interprofessional collaboration in the workplace is the present and future of healthcare. At the core, this boils down to healthcare professionals working together to solve problems. To ensure that healthcare professionals are equipped to work in a collaborative environment, organizations like the American Association of College Nursing are playing an active role in the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC). They, along with leaders from dentistry, medicine, pharmacy, and public health, signed a memorandum of understanding in 2012 to improve the “teamwork” initiative. Nine other fields were introduced into the collaborative this past year, creating an even stronger alliance that promotes interprofessional education across all of healthcare.
Combined with a clear workforce structure and proper interprofessional education, team-based collaboration enables healthcare professionals to better handle a variety of challenges, provide higher quality comprehensive care, and contribute more value to the healthcare system. The success of interprofessional collaboration resulting in better healthcare rests on a foundation that must be solid: the healthcare team.
Building Strong Teams in Healthcare
Interprofessional collaboration is simple in theory but much more complex in practice. As nurses, what tools do we need to be equipped with? What type of education do we need to operate as a team rather than individual players? Most importantly, what does this team interaction look like?
Unsurprisingly, the more cohesive the team, the better the quality of care provided. A recent Institute of Medicine paper titled Core Principles & Values of Effective Team-Based Health Care, identified five personal values that characterize the most effective members of high-functioning teams in health care:
Team members put a high value on effective communication within the team, including transparency about aims, decisions, uncertainty, and mistakes. Honesty is critical to continued improvement and for maintaining the mutual trust necessary for a high-functioning team.
Team members carry out their roles and responsibilities with discipline, even when it seems inconvenient. At the same time, team members are disciplined in seeking out and sharing new information to improve individual and team functioning, even when it’s uncomfortable. Such discipline allows teams to develop and stick to their standards and protocols even as they seek ways to improve.
Team members are excited by the possibility of tackling new or emerging problems creatively. They see even errors and unanticipated bad outcomes as potential opportunities to learn and improve.
Team members recognize differences in education but do not believe that one type of education or perspective is uniformly superior to the education of others. They also recognize that they are human and will make mistakes. Hence, a key value of working in a team is that fellow team members can rely on each other to help recognize and avert failures, regardless of where they are in the hierarchy.
Team members are dedicated to reflecting upon the lessons learned in the course of their daily activities and using those insights for continuous improvement of their own work and the functioning of the team.
A great amount of research has been done on team chemistry and effectiveness. With these five core principles in action, team members are better prepared to do well in their individual roles as well as succeed as a unit. Honesty, discipline, creativity, humility, and curiosity within the team are all vital components of effective, successful collaborative care.
Interprofessional education and collaboration are not just the future of the healthcare industry – they are critical now. From the classroom to the hospital, effective collaboration – and effective patient care – begins with these 5 shared values.