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HealthSeptember 06, 2017

There's no 'I" in team: Tips for successful inter-professional education

IPE Simulation Series is a three-part series that focuses on using Simulation in the classroom and in practice.  Part 1 focuses on "Tips for Successful IPE"

IPE Simulation Series is a three-part series that focuses on using Simulation in the classroom and in practice. Part 1 focuses on “Tips for Successful IPE."

By Judy Murphy and Melanie Cason, NLN Center for Innovation in Simulation and Technology

Inter-professional education and practice are critical to patient safety and improved patient care. The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, in collaboration with the Department of Defense, developed an evidence-based program to change the culture and improve communication among health care providers. Team STEPPS (Team Strategies & Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety) is a free program of study that can be done independently. At the conclusion of the 12 modules, the learner does a teach-back session to become a master trainer. Many of the tools provided in this program can help foster inter-professional practice. Here are some tips we have found helpful for a successful IP experience.

Tips for a successful inter-professional experience

Changing the healthcare culture 

This can be done by working with various departments to develop simulations that engage all professions. When health care providers from different professions work together they come to realize the value of other professions. IP communication improves patient safety because providers are more likely to speak up if something doesn't feel right.

Check out a powerful YouTube video that promotes the importance of communication and listening to the patient. Sue Sheridan lost her husband and has a permanently disabled son because of lack of communication and not listening to the patient.

Video thumbnail of Sue Sheridan speaking on patient and family engagement
Watch Video
TeamSTEPPS: Sue Sheridan on Patient and Family Engagement

Practice improves performance

At the Providence VA Medical Center, we pushed to have space for a simulation center. Once we got the space we named it the Inter-professional Simulation Center. In our center we run many inter-professional simulations, mock codes, and provide opportunities for deliberate practice to everyone interested in improving their skills. Since we started doing monthly mock codes, the chief of respiratory noted that “codes run more smoothly and are more organized than in the past."

Be calm and respectful

If another provider raises his\her voice to you in a confrontational way say, “I heard you, you don't need to raise your voice." Use closed loop communication to let the leader know that you heard and to confirm that you heard correctly. Thank all participants at a mock code for taking the time to learn and work with others. Respect, appreciation, and even a smile can go a long way toward enhancing mutual respect.

Understanding patient care roles

Assign roles early, whether an emergency or just a family care planning meeting. Knowing one's role will also significantly improve communication and patient safety. Organization and structure will enhance all teamwork.

Include the patient in all decisions

Do not ignore what older patients say. They know their bodies better than you. One of our mothers suffered nerve damage when she was sent to x-ray for a spiral CT. She told the technician, “I cannot raise my arm over my head. I have a nonunion fracture and severe osteoporosis." The technician did not listen.

Inter-professional education and practice should begin during the academic years and continue throughout one's career as a health care provider. Working together promotes a collegial relationship between providers and improves patient care.

We have some other suggestions to consider to promote inter-professional teamwork.

Additional IPE considerations for nursing

Consider the culture and climate of the organization

Teamwork education needs to be provided prior to the activity. What is needed? How will it be delivered? How will it be evaluated? (Eddy, Jordan, & Stephenson, 2016)

In-situ versus simulation lab

Consider the logistics and the goals of the activity. Is videotaping needed for optimal debriefing? If in a health care facility, verify if policies are in place for recording employees. If consent is required, be sure it is obtained.

Nursing team pre-briefing and debriefing

In order to promote effective debriefing it is essential to establish the ground rules, such as those used in crew resource management. All are allowed to speak up. Avoid the trap of the “highest ranked" participant inadvertently shutting down the debriefing by stating something like, “We don't have any problems with teamwork."

Above all, use your influence as a simulation expert to advocate for inter-professional education as an important component of improving patient safety and the health care environment. Lives depend upon it.


This article has been republished from the NLNTEQ blog with permission.

If you're interested in learning more about how to integrate IPE into your nursing curriculum, Lippincott DocuCare is now providing support for health disciplines beyond nursing. In order to demonstrate the interdisciplinary nature of patient care, new Occupational Therapy content has been added to Lippincott DocuCare to provide the ability for OT students to document care following the occupational therapy practice framework. The new content represents the commitment in Lippincott DocuCare to inter-professional education, allowing both nursing students and those in other health disciplines to develop knowledge and skills related to care team coordination.

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