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Learning Center Experience
The patient sits in the exam room for his yearly checkup. He’s
in his mid-40s and has no serious medical issues, but his family has a history
of type 2 diabetes. Maintaining a healthy diet is crucial for his future
wellness. The man’s nurse provides general tips on what to eat and then refers
him to a dietician. After all, this is the person who has the education and
training needed to best set up a comprehensive daily routine.
Despite the dietician now taking on a leadership role in
treatment, the nurse’s job is not finished. That nurse is still managing the
patient’s overall treatment, collaborating with health care professionals from
different specialties—and even the patient’s family members—to ensure the best
and safest path of treatment. As the industry has moved to a more team-based approach
of care, a greater emphasis has been placed on the importance of interprofessional collaboration and
communication in nursing, Dr. Ken Miller, president of the American Association
of Nurse Practitioners, told Kaplan University.
"What's happened over time is that all of us have
discovered that we can no longer work in silos," said Dr. Miller. "We
have to depend on one another."
In team-based care, health care providers from different specialties
survey each individual case to determine the following: What is the role of
each member of that team? Who will be the team leader? What is the detailed plan
of action? “It all depends on what the presenting symptoms are and what the
needs of the patient are at that particular point in time,” said Dr. Miller.
For example, if a cardiology patient is having problems with his
medication, the pharmacist could be the appropriate person to lead the solution
effort. But nurses would work closely with other specialists too, from
ultrasound techs to radiologists to mental health professionals. It’s a fluid
situation that requires everyone on the team to be flexible, organized, and in
The idea for collaborative patient care is not new—in fact, advocates
have been pushing for it since the
1960s. Key progress was made last decade in research by the teams of Dr. Hugh Barr and Dr. Jane Barnsteiner. Plus, innovation
in technology such as telemedicine and advanced medical equipment has made specialization—and
thus interprofessional collaboration—more common.
Nurses and nurse practitioners need to be prepared for this new
frontier of care. Dr. Miller said that in order for health care professionals
across specialties to be in sync, everyone has to be on the same page with
three primary courses: Advanced Pathophysiology, Advanced Pharmacology, and
Advanced Physical Assessment. "Everything you do is going to be based on
those three courses because that's essential for everything we do as primary
health care providers," he said.
But there are also essential skills needed that go beyond
medical textbooks. As so much communication today is digital, nurses need impeccable
verbal and writing skills. Telemedicine is one area where this is highlighted. For
example, a nurse will interact with patients over live-streaming video, still a
relatively new form of communication for many. Once the appointment is over,
the nurse coordinates with specialists over email and fills out an electronic
health record so everyone on the team has detailed, up-to-date information.
Being able to explain diagnoses and protocols clearly and succinctly is essential
to prevent confusion.
The collaborative effort has also expanded to include more
family engagement in a patient’s care, especially for the elderly. "Physicians,
nurses, physical therapists and pharmacists all have to buy into the philosophy—the
mission and the vision—and receive education to really understand what it means
to have patients, families and members of the health care team fully
engaged," Barnsteiner told Transformative Health. "Nurses play a
significant role in this because they are the constant. Not only are they there
24/7, but they are also the ones who help operationalize the culture and bring
it to life for patients and families."
Nurses are the backbone of the health care team, and their roles
have expanded to a point that they are no longer just working with physicians
and administrators in their own office—they run a team that is spread far and
wide. As we move ahead, their impact will continue to grow, and the process
will become more efficient. The bottom line? Collaborative team-based care is
still evolving, but when done right, it results in better, safer care for
patients. "All of us have learned that we can't do it alone," said
We encourage you to share this article using #TIL if you learned something new or found this information useful.
If you are considering a nursing degree we invite you to find out more about the School of Nursing and explore our undergraduate and graduate degree offerings.
Interested in other nursing career insights? We invite you to take a look at our Career Moves site, which periodically publishes new articles and other content on this subject.
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