The word collaboration implies working together for the greater good but actually encompasses far more. Several preconditions must be in place for collaboration to be successful. Collaboration must have shared objectives. The value system among the participants must be similar. Communication must be honest, respectful, and purposeful. Successful collaborative nursing practice and collaborative health care practice need to encompass all of these conditions.
Collaborative health care practices facilitate better patient outcomes. The healthcare team works as a group utilizing individual skills and talents to reach the highest of patient care standards. A multidisciplinary plan of care should be decided by all of the team members.
Individual disciplines must be willing to work together, have the same objectives and goals, and provide a plan of care which is individualized to the patient’s needs. A multidisciplinary approach to care sounds simple in theory, but collaboration of different skill levels and expertise has its share of problems.
When collaborative practice occurs, several barriers may be encountered. The most common break down in collaborative practice is lack of communication. If the disciplines are not communicating with each other, there will not be consistency and continuity in care. As stated previously, collaborative care can only be successful if the team works together. Working together requires communication.
Another common barrier to collaborative practice is the inability to work together because of the lack of understanding and appreciation for what the other contributes to the team. Collaborative care requires nursing to work with another discipline to resolve problems and potential complications. Because of different personality types and each discipline feeling he is the most important component to a successful patient outcome; it can be a complicated dynamic.
Lack of mutual trust and respect can be a potential barrier to collaborative care. If there is not respect and trust for each discipline in the collaborative team, the team will not effectively work together, putting the patient at risk. It also puts the patient in the position of feeling unsafe. Patients will pick up on the lack of trust among the team.
Collaborative nursing practice, when properly orchestrated, has amazing results. A health care team which works well together, has mutual respect for everyone’s contributions, and communicates effectively, can make all the difference in the patient’s outcome. Healthcare facilities that practice collaborative multidisciplinary care, raise the bar that much further than those that do not.
As healthcare professionals, we need to look at the whole picture and meet all of the needs of our patients. As nurses, it is essential that we give up some power and trust, that other members of the team are just as important in providing comprehensive, quality care. With that in mind, we will always do what is best for our patients, even when that means relinquishing some control.
Diagnosing, retrieved February 24, 2007, http://rosswell.tusc.kent.edu/nursing/nrst10002/npnotes/classes/npclass05.html
Wikipedia, Collaboration Definition, pp. 2, retrieved February 22, 2007,