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When the Ebola outbreak ravaged countries in West Africa, different nations sent medical experts to collaborate in arresting a situation that significantly threatened global health (Hoyt, 2017). Interprofessional collaborations work in the same manner albeit at a smaller scale like in a localized hospital environment. The ageing population, transitioning of acute ailments into chronic diseases, shortages of medical professionals, and a quest to minimize hospital stays are some of the changing aspects relative to society’s healthcare demands and needs. These eventualities have advocated for a concept where healthcare professions work in tandem towards the maintenance and greater societal health as well as that of the individual (Supper, Catala, Lustman, Chemla, Bourgueil, & Letrilliart, 2014). Doctors, pharmacists, nurses, social workers, and all other medical professionals have identified interprofessional team collaborations as the most effective approach towards ensuring the creation and execution of a personalized plan of care that enhances patient care, safety and health status.
It is very rare to find high performance interprofessional team collaborations naturally occurring in a healthcare setting. These have to be created and diligently managed. One characteristic of such teams is that there has to be a participative leader who effectively recognizes and emphasizes purpose (Supper et al., 2014). Other characteristics include open and clear communication mechanisms, effective decision making, full engagement by all team members, clear team goals, clear identification of each member’s contributions and role, trust, corporative associations, pro-diversity, and active conflict management (Chong, Aslani, & Chen, 2013).
Benefits and Limitations
One major conceptual limitation hindering collaborations is perceived hierarchy (Chong et al., 2013). It is common to witness professional with greater autonomy or status understanding purpose and exhibiting less constraints as well as being more open towards enhancing decision making endeavors. This can be effectively eliminated through emphasis on patient views and needs. Other barriers to high performance collaborations in interprofessional teams include poor awareness, recognition or definition of each professional’s discrete role (Supper et al., 2014). In other instances which limit effectiveness on interprofessional team collaborations include role conflict among members especially if there are possibilities of replication and super positioning of patient care (Washington, Guo, Albright, Lewis, Parker Oliver, & Demiris, 2017). Patients also exhibit desire to experience continuity of care from particular team members. Differences occurring amongst professionals concerning patient care also create barriers which can be minimized by focusing on wellness as opposed to an identified illness.
Benefits on interprofessional team collaborations serve to complement objectives of the healthcare provider. Healthcare is essentially dependent on numerous differentiated disciplines working in tandem towards achieving optimized patient care outcomes (Washington et al., 2017). Similarly, care delivery costs and quality of care are enhanced since interprofessional collaborations focus on patient centered goals. The organization benefits from reduction in inefficiencies, equality of resources, blending of professional cultures, accountability, coordination, responsibility, respect and trust allowing for a desirable existence of autonomy (Supper et al., 2014).
Strategies Promoting Interprofessional Collaborations
To ensure effectiveness of teams, it is imperative that all members be fully cognizant interprofessional collaboration competencies. Teams and team work competency allows members to appreciate shared problem solving and by extension, shared decision making which highlights interdependence as well as efficiency (Washington et al., 2017). Interprofessional communication as a competency is critical to functionality and effectiveness of team collaborations. It allows for the exploitation of emerging opportunities that promote organization, functioning and interactions among team players. The roles and responsibility competency ensures each profession acknowledges and reaches out to another’s level of expertise and capacities in a patient centered approach (Supper et al., 2014). Lastly, ethics and values competencies underscore obligation each individual professional has towards honoring a patient’s rights as well as the ethical foundations of team oriented care.
In conclusion, interprofessional team collaborations in nursing practice define success as being able to work in a healthcare setting that integrates the approach from the patient’s bedside all the way up to the organization’s boardroom. Experts favor multidisciplinary meetings and rounds that allow for discussions and developments concerning patient care to thrive. Nurses in interprofessional teams are able to learn more, advocate for change by being involved in collaborations that not only realize desirable patient care outcomes and safety but also societal health.
Chong, W. W., Aslani, P., & Chen, T. F. (2013). Shared decision-making and interprofessional collaboration in mental healthcare: a qualitative study exploring perceptions of barriers and facilitators. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 27(5), 373-379.
Hoyt, D. B. (2017). Operation Ebola: surgical care during the West African outbreak. Baltimore, MA: JHU Press.
Supper, I., Catala, O., Lustman, M., Chemla, C., Bourgueil, Y., & Letrilliart, L. (2014). Interprofessional collaboration in primary health care: a review of facilitators and barriers perceived by involved actors. Journal of Public Health, 37(4), 716-727.
Washington, K. T., Guo, Y., Albright, D. L., Lewis, A., Parker Oliver, D., & Demiris, G. (2017). Team functioning in hospice interprofessional meetings: An exploratory study of providers’ perspectives. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 1-8.