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Interprofessional Collaboration in Nursing

If you will be able to provide a caption for the cartoon below, what would it be?

I know you are thinking of failure to collaborate between healthcare professionals that can lead to poor healthcare services. Poor communication has also been identified as the primary factor of both medical malpractice claims and major patient safety violations, including errors resulting in patient death. This article will focus on the nature and benefits of interprofessional collaboration and the competencies needed by every healthcare member to accomplish it.

Interprofessional Collaborative Practice

Every member of the healthcare team has the responsibility to deliver accurate information with each other and to patients and their families. The concept of interprofessional communication was fully introduced in 2010 by the World Health Organization as Interprofessional collaborative practice:

 “When multiple health workers from different professional backgrounds work together with patients, families, carers [sic], and communities to deliver the highest quality of care” (WHO, 2010)

Interprofessional collaboration occurs when health providers/students communicate with each other, with people and their families, and with the community in an open, collaborative and responsible manner.

This type of communication builds trust amongst people, their families and team members.

An environment of mutual respect is essential for interprofessional communication. Respect helps facilitate a positive environment in which to set shared goals, create collaborative plans, make decisions and share responsibilities.

Skills Required for Inteprofessional Collaboration

Nurses in teams must improve their coordination and communication skills wherever necessary. Participants to a study conducted in the UK, have identified the different skills or competencies that will make interprofessional communication effective between healthcare workers:

  • Communication skills: This includes verbal and non-verbal communication skills such as the abilities to listen, observe and negotiate, to keep records and to keep in touch with colleagues. This also includes the abilities to adapt communication styles and to be assertive
  • Interpersonal relationship skills: This includes the abilities to be approachable, genuine, sociable and adaptable to situations
  • Teamwork skills: This includes the abilities to co-ordinate and delegate, and to demonstrate effective leadership. This also includes the abilities to care for, share with and involve colleagues
  • Knowledge of roles: This includes knowledge and understanding of the roles and responsibilities of different professionals
  • Personal qualities: This includes the abilities to respect and tolerate others,  and to demonstrate patience, openness, confidence, receptiveness, willingness and honesty
  • Personal attributes: This includes experience and personal maturity
  • Other: This can include the abilities to be punctual and efficient, inspire trust and work across professional boundaries

interprofessional collaborationHow to Achieve Effective Interprofessional Collaboration?

When you work in the hospital or even in the community setting, there’s no room for excuses in delivering the right kind of information for the sake of patient’s welfare. Nurses have the important role in setting the right example in achieving effective interprofessional collaboration.

Some the identified themes that nurses can use are as follows:

  • Communicating clearly.
    • Never shorten sentences as they provide different meaning afterwards.
    • Use accepted acronyms that are understandable by every medical professional.
    • Write legibly.
  • Providing sufficient (adequate) information (verbal or written)
  • Offering timely information
  • Notifying the appropriate healthcare provider about the patient’s condition, including any changes in that condition
  • Being polite and respectful
  • Responding to other healthcare professionals in polite manner
  • Reviewing notes from nurses and other healthcare professionals
  • Using specific communication tools, e.g., the surgical safety checklist

As always, our role is to promote patient safety all the time. If wrong information is disseminated to every health care team members, the safety of the patient is compromised. It can prevented though, as long as we religiously develop effective communication and collaboration with