By: Mary Nash, PhD, RN, FAAN
Chief Nurse Executive, OSU Health System
Much has been written and discussed about the importance of multidisciplinary collaboration in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. Profound changes in science, technology, patient activism, the market-driven health care environment and the nature and settings have all radically transformed the health care professions.
As a nursing leader, I am all too familiar with the changes in nursing practice and the many implications for nursing education. New nurses need to be prepared to practice safely, accurately and compassionately in varied settings where knowledge and innovation increase at an astonishing rate (Benner, 2010).
The nursing profession faces its own unique challenges that threaten the achievement of communications across disciplines and the design of safe health care systems more complex, namely the abiding hierarchical nature of the health care setting. That anomaly notwithstanding, the principle remains for all health care professions – a need for clear and precise communication within an inter-professional health care team.
At cross purposes to this need is education for the various members of the team. Nursing, medicine, physical therapy and other health care professionals educate their students in academic silos, isolated from one another and, hence, largely ignorant of the expectations of those with whom they will need to work closely.
Our challenge, as healthcare leaders and educators, is to be the catalyst of this interdisciplinary collaboration. Some of the most successful efforts and best solutions are a result of individuals bringing different perspectives to a problem. Whether we’re talking about patient centered care, advances in genomic research, or applying the latest educational approaches, diversity in background and thought is crucial. Expanding beyond interdisciplinary rounding to global initiatives benefits everyone.
I would be interested in hearing what kinds of steps you are taking to foster interdisciplinary collaboration into your teaching methods and how they enhance teamwork in patient care, research or education provided by your department, organization or institution?