Isn’t Collaboration in Nursing Something We Do Everyday?

This post is part of a collaboration with other nurse bloggers through The Nurse Blog Carnival.  Keith and Kevin from RNFM Radio are hosting this months enlightening round which will be posted on 4/15/14.

Collaboration in nursing is a term that can sound overwhelming and off-putting to many. In truth it’s probably something that you do everyday without even thinking about it. It’s not necessary for every situation, but when it is needed, the outcomes can be compromised if nurses are unwilling or unable to participate.

If you stop and think about it, physicians have been collaborating for forever. When the generalist needs advice about a specific problem he calls in the specialist. If that specialist needs more help she calls in another specialist and so on. Collaboration is a journey as well as a process and outcome (you need to register – free- to read) to help patients achieve common goals and optimum outcomes in a cost-effective manner.

Collaboration and Teamwork
Collaboration and teamwork are often used interchangeably. Some nurses are not well suited for this process and resist it with all their might. There is professional jealousy or a need to be in control that doesn’t let that nurse accept help and capitalize on the process of working with others to achieve a common goal. This brings to mind the idea that nurses eat their young.

In patient-centered care, nurses have to leave their egos outside and work with others to provide the best quality and evidence-based care possible. Collaboration easily uses the nursing process to define the problem, brainstorm using critical thinking skills to problem solve, establish a plan and set goals and then evaluate the process. Sometimes collaboration is just a part of our everyday routine and we don’t necessarily realize it.

Shared Decision Making
Collaboration is about shared decision making and bringing together the best minds to assess and evaluate the situation. As a single individual, the nurse is not often able to provide for all of the needs of the patient. A simple collaboration example would be to call in the WOCN nurse to consult on a wound that is not responding to the current treatment.

Other examples include meeting interdisciplinary needs such as bringing a physical therapist in to teach safe transfers to the family before discharge, an occupational therapist to explore energy conservation techniques, or social services to assist with community resources and financial issues involving the patent’s care.Interdisciplinary communication allows the team to collaborate to problem solve, set goals, and achieve optimum outcomes for the patient 

Promoting Wellness and Preventative Care
In a wellness model of health care delivery, collaboration becomes even more important. Our jobs are no longer all about just treating the current problem and discharge. We have to educate patients so they can take responsibility for their own health status and outcomes. If we help them learn how to prevent illness in the first place and prevent or control complications for chronic diseases already present, we will significantly reduce the costs of health care and promote wellness.

This post was written as part of the Nurse Blog Carnival. If you are interested in participating find out more details and sign up here.