Interprofessional Collaboration Influence on Nursing Practice

If patient safety during treatment is a concern, healthcare practice is a highly interconnected practice. According to Olson and Bialocerkowski (2014), an interdisciplinary approach is essential to provide a wholesome, holistic solution to unwell patients, which is always the secondary goal of medical treatment. Comprehensive patient management in modern medicine necessitates the professional contribution of numerous professions. Professional staff members in optimally performing medical facilities include general practitioner doctors, pharmacists, medical laboratory technicians, nutritionists, and physiotherapists who have various professional competences and scopes of activities to perform in hospital settings. In spite of the varying technical responsibilities of each profession, they still collaborate so that they all contribute to the common goal of promoting and maintaining the safety of their patients. This paper provides an insight on how the need for interprofessional collaboration has influenced aspects of nursing such as the training, practice, and research and also the obstacles facing its growth.

Actual and Potential Influence of Interdisciplinary Collaboration on Nursing Training

Medical training schools are re-aligning their management in response to the demand to promote interprofessional collaboration. From the national level to school level, top decision-making organs are restructuring to bring on board representatives from all professions in healthcare. The medical school managements are adapting to match demands in the labor markets. Versatility and flexibility of nurses are desirable traits, so training schools are offering curricula that cover part of the academic content from other professions especially specialties in medical laboratory techniques.

Joint class activities for students in medical professions have become the norm in medical training institutions. Thistlethwaite (2015) asserts that learning activities like simulations and interfaculty discussions among students are done with the aim of promoting interprofessional collaboration. The majority of nursing students enroll into training schools when they are oblivious of the limits and scope of their future clinical experience. Their role and jurisdiction of patient care are not contradistinguished from those of other health professions during the formative years of training in basic health science. In these sophomore years, students in healthcare professions can attend common basic science classes together. For example, trainee nurses, doctors, pharmacists, and medical laboratory technicians can attend classes on first aid, basic life support and resuscitation together. Such programs would be expected to instill a culture of interprofessional respect and collaboration from an early professional age, which the students are likely to carry on into their future practice.

The idea of interprofessional collaboration has triggered the exchange of curricula content between professions. The nursing training curricular is expanding, with the exchange of curricular content between related professions. A study by Hall & Zierler (2015), bears findings that portions of expertise from other professions are incorporated into nursing training and vice versa to expand the bare minimum knowledge base of health workers. Since it is not possible to teach students all aspects of each profession, medical schools are setting up information resource centers that provide detailed information on other professions to allow interested students do further research. Students who undergo interprofessional training enter the labor market when they already appreciate the importance of collaboration in healthcare.

Actual and Potential Influence of Interdisciplinary Collaboration on Nursing Practice

As a result of the practice of interprofessional collaboration, hospital managements in the recent past have had to restructure their organizations. Every profession in healthcare practice is getting absorbed into the top hospital management to form an inter-disciplinary hospital administrative structure. Health facilities that have adopted these structures generally have an appreciable level of interprofessional collaboration. Here, the members of perceived lowly-placed health professions feel appreciated and motivated by working in equally high ranks and portfolios as other professionals. Such an arrangement sets the esteem of all health workers at par, making interprofessional communication and collaboration to be a non-intimidating experience.

The practice of interprofessional collaboration generally increases the efficiency of health workers and promotes patient safety by eliminating unnecessary bureaucracy and protocol that drag decision-making process. With collaboration comes easier and faster interprofessional consultations. This comes handy, especially in community public health projects. A worldwide study by Thistlethwaite (2015), found out that among other benefits, health workers in multi-professional teams in the United Kingdom, for example, could “understand the contribution that effective interdisciplinary team working makes to the delivery of safe and high-quality care.”

The practice of interprofessional collaboration is increasingly receiving worldwide acceptance in healthcare practice. However, in the wake of its growth, it is still facing few circumstantial obstacles. Factors impeding the realization of a projected dream of universal expertise among health workers are both personal and institutional barriers. Personal barriers consist of individual perceptions and attitudes of certain professionals. Ego wars still exist between some health workers, in that some quarters may unnecessarily consider themselves better trained and qualified than the rest. Such personal inflated egos and demeaning attitudes slow the progress of the practice of interprofessional collaboration. Institutional barriers occur in the form of stratification of health care professions into a hierarchical protocol at the workplace. This form of professional ranking causes discrimination in the distribution of roles and responsibilities at work-a setback to collaboration.

Actual and Potential Influence of Interdisciplinary Collaboration on Nursing Research

Heinerichs et al. (2015) alludes to the fact that with the advent of interprofessional collaboration, any research on nursing practice must incorporate participants or respondents from all other medical professions in order to be considered reputable. This translates to large research teams, which adds merit to the research work in question. In these research teams, the teamwork and experience itself promote interprofessional collaborations in future professional undertakings. The final result has increased the authenticity of the research findings since there is the valuable opportunity for the first-hand ratification with professional analysis and interpretation of results by the researchers themselves.

On the flipside, a large research team automatically translates to increased cost of financing the research. However, considering the improved quality of research, the high cost is a justifiable one. The cost-benefits analyses of such projects are favorable, hence warranting their undertaking.


Despite extensive interprofessional collaboration happening in healthcare today, the individual healthcare professions still remain independent, with unique contributions but they cannot work in isolation. Its influence has been experienced in aspects of nursing training, practice, and research. The scope of nursing training curricular is expanding to incorporate other professions, while the authenticity and quality of research are also improving. Division of labor according to professions is still being done in hospitals, but without absolute restrictions on the scope of practice for each profession. The practice is experiencing personal and institutional barriers but still, its effects on nursing practice have been beneficial in improving the efficiency of health workers, hence promoting patients’ safety.


Hall, L. W. & Zierler, B. K. (2015). Interprofessional Education and Practice Guide No. 1: Developing Faculty to Effectively Facilitate Interprofessional Education. Journal of Interprofessional Care, 29(1), pp. 3-7.

Heinerichs, S., Gilboy, M. B., Metz, S., Reed, M. A. & Harrison, B. E. (2017). Community Engagement with Older Adults to Evaluate Interprofessional Education in Allied Healthcare

Students. Internet Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice, 15(1), 2.

Olson, R. & Bialocerkowski, A. (2014). Interprofessional Education in Allied Health: a Systematic Review. Medical Education, 48(3), pp. 236-246.

Thistlethwaite, J. E. (2015). Interprofessional Education: Implications and Development for Medical Education. Educación Médica, 16(1), pp. 68-73.

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