The Case for Interprofessional Healthcare

Interprofessional collaborative healthcare is at the forefront of the latest advancements in nursing and patient care.

An interprofessional collaborative approach to healthcare is defined by the American Nurses Association as the “integrated enactment of knowledge, skills, and values and attitudes that define working together across the professions, with other health care workers, and with patients, along with families and communities, as appropriate to improve health outcomes.”

Building Synergy

The goals of this approach are to create synergies between different personnel and make healthcare more efficient among those on a healthcare team.

By working more closely together, healthcare teams can provide better care and, ultimately, improve outcomes. A report from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation found that when nurses and doctors took an interprofessional healthcare approach at the Aurora West Allis Medical Center in Wisconsin, patients’ length of stay decreased by 0.6 days and rates of falls decreased by 50 percent. Clearly, collaboration across medical departments has a significant impact on patient outcomes and may drive improvements to healthcare delivery in the future.

Barriers to Interprofessional Collaboration

While this approach is effective, there are some barriers to implementation.

One of the key elements of having a successful team in any setting is trust between members. Establishing such trust between nurses and physicians takes time, and both parties need to know they can count on the other to achieve a goal. However, if members of teams are committed to building that trust through honesty and transparency, the cohesion created can be powerful.

Logistics can present another obstacle. Rotating staff schedules can mean nurses and doctors don’t see each other regularly, making communication and team dynamics harder to develop.

Finally, a lack of understanding can inhibit interprofessional collaboration. For too long, nurses and doctors have felt they operated on separate teams, and many may not understand the full range of the others’ scope of practice.

Benefits of Interprofessional Collaboration

Overcoming those barriers is worth it, because there are a number of benefits to interprofessional healthcare.

Eliminates Communication Gaps

When medical professionals from different fields work together, communication is improved. For example, instead of communicating primarily through patient charts, colleagues working in collaboration can share ideas on treatment, as well as the latest updates and symptoms patients are experiencing.

Produces Comprehensive Patient Care

When healthcare professionals work together, it becomes easier to create a more comprehensive view of patient care, which may result in a shorter stay at a facility.

Reduces Medical Errors

When medical professionals work together as a team, they pick each other up and help each other out. A physician’s knowledge of a symptom can help a registered nurse provide better care for a patient, while a registered nurse’s constant watch can help bring a physician’s attention to new symptoms.

Creates a Better Work Environment

Interprofessional healthcare practices promote greater teamwork, which can create improved job satisfaction and a better work environment, with everyone working toward the same goal.

Fosters Mutual Respect

When healthcare professionals work together to improve patient care, it can help give all individuals a better understanding of the challenges their colleagues face in their unique positions.

Lowers the Cost of Care

Ultimately, this is the top benefit of interprofessional collaborative healthcare. By providing better care to patients, these patients can recover and be discharged quicker, reducing the time and costs spent taking care of patients.

Learn to Collaborate With Your Team

Interprofessional collaboration is the future of nursing, and Alvernia University can help you achieve your career goals. In the online RN to BSN program, experienced faculty guide you along a path to provide the best care for your patients. Nurses’ lives are busy, but Alvernia’s asynchronous schedule allows you to balance your classes with your professional life.

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