Four Steps To Interprofessional Collaboration

Medical Practice / Office Ownership, Professional Nursing Practice 9

Interdisciplinary Collaboration | Interprofessional Collaboration

Interprofessional practice incorporates collaboration among all healthcare team members. A key element of successful healthcare interprofessional practice is effective communication among interdisciplinary team members, or interprofessional collaboration. Interprofessional collaboration is the practice of healthcare professionals with diverse educational and professional backgrounds communicating with the common goal of providing quality comprehensive healthcare services to patients, their families, and communities (World Health Organization, 2011). According to Foster (2010), accepting and promoting diversity of all levels, interdependent communication and genuine communicating is an effective strategy for interdisciplinary communication. Learning and utilizing effective communication skills will promote collegiality harmony, as well as enhance our professional role as nurses and nurse practitioners.

Interprofessional Collaboration: An Essential to Nursing Education and Practice

An article by Ponzer, Hylin, Kusoffsky, Lauffs, Lonka, Mattiasson & Nordström (2004) believes interprofessional communication should begin at the entry level of academia. Furthermore, one of the Eight Essentials of Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice is interprofessional collaboration for improving patient and population health outcomes. Interprofessional collaboration should be a core component of academic expectations to improve awareness and offer opportunities to be more cognizant of interprofessional roles and purposes. By implementing interprofessional collaboration, hierarchal boundaries are lifted and shared governance is instituted. According to Ruger (2011), shared governance fosters collective responsibility of healthcare outcomes from all members. The shared governance model encourages team members’ commitment for guaranteeing utilization of each member’s resources. This would ensure and support the health and well-being of patients placed within their care.

By implementing interprofessional collaboration, hierarchal boundaries are lifted and shared governance is instituted.

Strategies to disable healthcare hierarchies and allow a shared leadership approach include a philosophy of shared governance. This philosophy promotes increased interprofessional collaboration and a pluralistic approach (Owen and Cooke, 2004). Professional socialization during education endeavors will contribute to the perception of significant value of including all professional roles cohesively as a team for the patient (Lingard, Vanstone, Durrant., Fleming-Carroll, Lowe, Rashotte, & Tallet, 2012). The responsibilities can be shared in collaborative situations by being inclusive of all team members, valuing diversity and input for increased participation.

According to Sterrett (2010), preparation for health professional students role as effective interprofessional team members begins with social communication and environmental emersion. This incorporates three essential concepts:

  1. building community
  2. making meaning
  3. feeling respected.

Students would be able to build a sense of community and collegiality among health professional disciplines by engaging others with their professional role, and mentorship. Understanding your purpose enables you to communicate what you add to the patient’s care. The process of making meaning encourages participation with interprofessional team members and consequently adds a deeper revelation of valuing each member’s input for improved patient outcomes. The cornerstone of interprofessional communication is respect. Each student should respect each members opinions and contribution to the team (Sterrett, 2010).

The Four Steps of Beginning Interprofessional Collaboration

A helpful way to begin such interprofessional collaboration communication is through implementing a four step communication intervention:

  1. First, introduce oneself to the group.
  2. Secondly, prevent role confusion by stating your professional role and how it relates to the patient’s care.
  3. Thirdly, share with team members plans to incorporate the patient’s healthcare needs in the conversation along with any particular professional training issues. This focuses the group on problem-solving together.
  4. Lastly, give and receive feedback of the interprofessional collaboration. These steps have been determined to be helpful in assisting different disciplines to communicate and collaborate together (Rice, Zwarenstein, Conn, Kenaszchuk, Russell & Reeves, 2010).

Outcomes of Interprofessional Collaboration

Interprofessional communication results in a more holistic approach with team members being inclusive of all aspects of healthcare providers. Interprofessional education produces engagement and knowledge with, from and about each other. Collaborating with interprofessionals develops strength in one’s professional role, as well as increased ability to integrate other professional roles within the plan of care (Ponzer, Hylin, Kusoffsky, Lauffs, Lonka, Mattiasson & Nordström, 2004), and ultimately improved patient outcomes.

As experience is gained, I believe this empowers the graduate to progress from not only improving patient outcomes at the bedside, but also leading to continued collaboration with interprofessionals and as a healthcare policy advocates. Ultimately, in the work environment, the graduate will be a leading force in research, critically appraising evidence, implementing evidence into practice and dissemination of information to make a positive impact beyond their everyday clinical setting and professional practice.


Chism, L. A. (2010). The doctor of nursing practice: A guide to role development and  professional issues (2nd ed.). Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett.

Foster, R., (2010).  Are we preparing DNPs for collaborative roles?  Journal for Specialist in Pediatric Nursing. 15(4), doi; 10.1111/j.1744-6155.2010.00256.x

Lingard, L., Vanstone, M., Durrant, M., Fleming-Carroll, B., Lowe, M., Rashotte, J., Tallett, S. (2012, December). Conflicting messages: Examining the Dynamics of leadership on interprofessional teams. Academic Medicine, 87(12), 1762-1767.

Owen, J., & Cooke, J. (2004). Developing research capacity and collaboration in primary care and social care: is there enough common ground?. Qualitative Social Work3(4), 389-410.

Ponzer, S., Hylin, U., Kusoffsky, A., Lauffs, M., Lonka, K., Mattiasson, A., & Nordström, G. (2004). Interprofessional training in the context of clinical practice: goals and students’ perceptions on clinical education wards. Medical Education38(7), 727-736.

Rice, K., Zwarenstein, M., Conn, L., Kenaszchuk, C., Russell, A., & Reeves, S. (2010). An intervention to improve interprofessional collaboration and communications: a comparative qualitative study. Journal Of Interprofessional Care24(4), 350-361. doi:10.3109/13561820903550713

Ruger, J. (2011). Shared Health Governance. American Journal Of Bioethics11(7), 32-45. doi:10.1080/15265161.2011.568577

Sterrett, S. E. (2010, December). Becoming an interprofessional community of practice: A qualitiative study of an interprofessional fellowship. Journal of Research in Interprofessional Practice and Education, 1(3), 247-264.

World Health Organization (2011) Global Health and Ageing. World Health Organization, Geneva.

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