nurse learning
HealthJanuary 12, 2016

Essential attributes of interprofessional care teams

The shift toward value-based reimbursement has transformed interprofessional collaboration from a pie-in-the-sky ideal to a dollars-and-cents necessity. The American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), too, in its Magnet Application Manual—Source of Evidence EP12—calls for hospitals to “feature clinical nurses in leadership roles of collaborative interprofessional activities that enhance quality of care.”

In today’s healthcare setting, clinicians no longer have the option of staying within their professional islands, as English poet John Donne put it, “entire of themselves.” To further borrow Donne’s famous words and apply them to 21st-century healthcare, each discipline “is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.”

That’s not to say interprofessional collaboration comes easily. Different viewpoints, different strengths, different skill sets and different personalities can make cross-professional patient care teamwork a challenge, to say the least. But let’s focus for a moment on the possibilities—the what-ifs. If you could compile your dream interprofessional team, what attributes would you look for?

What nurses want

One of the most commonly mentioned attributes of an interprofessional dream team was an ability and willingness of its members to listen. Tied in with that, nurses also voiced the importance of qualities that take caregiver listening a step further: empathy and compassion.

“Empathy and desire to understand go very far in the nursing profession,” wrote one respondent. “Nurses and other collaborative team members should never forget that by sharing knowledge and experience, we improve the work environments, work relationships, patient outcomes and ultimately our own reputations.”

Another pointed out that understanding and support should emanate from caregivers in more than one direction. “Compassion toward your coworkers,” the respondent wrote, “not just your patients.”

Hard work and “the desire to roll up their sleeves and pitch in” was cited, as were more whimsical qualities such as imagination, curiosity, and a sense of humor.

What nurses don’t want

What would members of the dream interprofessional team leave at the door, if nurses had their way? Gossip, bullying, hubris and all-around negativity, respondents said.

“I want to work with people who want to do their job,” wrote one, “and not those who gossip or worry about who is doing less than they are. If you like your job, everything else will fall into place.”

Another respondent’s perfect team would lack cell phones during work time.

“Leave them in your locker until lunch or breaks,” she wrote.

Other influences

The importance of good leadership cropped up, too, with one nurse expressing a desire for the nursing profession to adapt best practices on leadership from the business world.

Another looked to mix “a family touch” with a professional approach to create his interprofessional dream team.

Still another provided a half-dozen attributes that most would find difficult to argue with. Her team would feature “supportive, helpful, competent, intelligent, compassionate, hard-working and imaginative problem-solvers,” she wrote.

Pie-in-the-sky dreaming? Perhaps.  But you could also consider it an exercise in purposeful professional planning.

In addition to these resources, having instant bedside access to the latest evidence-based clinical information has also been helpful in standardizing patient care transitions between various teams of clinicians and caregivers.

Tell us, what qualities would your interprofessional dream team possess? Leave us a comment below!

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