Nurses Day Conference Keynote Looks at the Challenges of Interprofessional Collaborative Practice

September 3, 2021

What is the role of nursing in interprofessional teams? What strategies can be used to build more effective communication between health care professionals? What can nurses do to improve and advance interprofessional collaborative practice?

These are just some of the questions that were addressed by Patricia A. Reidy, DNP, FNP-BC, FNAP, FAAN, in her keynote address, “Interprofessional Collaborative Practice and the Nursing Role: Bridging the Gap.”

Delivered during the Nurses Day Conference 2021, held online on May 7, 2021, the presentation offered a detailed look at the current state and future promise of interprofessional collaborative practice.

Reidy, the associate dean of Academic Affairs and Program Innovation at the MGH Institute of Health Professions School of Nursing, drew on research studies, real-life examples, and video case studies to explore issues related to the improvement of collaboration and communication between health care teams.

In 2010, Reidy reported, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that “Collaborative practice happens when multiple health workers from different professional backgrounds work together with patients, families, and communities to deliver the highest quality of care across settings.”

Gaps in Training and Practice

WHO’s definition, Reidy said, was “well and good,” but gaps created by disparate educational approaches, engrained hierarchies, and long-standing clinical practices make it difficult to realize the promise of interprofessional collaborative practice.

Woman on couch watches laptop screen
McLean’s 2021 Nurses Day Conference was held virtually

To show how the gaps stand in the way of true collaboration, Reidy offered study results and real-world examples of fragmentation in the health care system. She also presented a video that illustrated how gaps in communication and training can prevent care team members—including doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and social workers—from working together effectively to serve a patient.

A Focus on Education

Reidy dedicated much of her talk to addressing gaps in medical education that prevent true collaboration. She also described improvements in health education that have been instituted over the past ten years.

Specifically, she discussed the work that she and her colleagues are doing through the MGH Institute, an academic-clinical partnership, and the Crimson Care Collaborative, an interprofessional student-faculty collaborative practice that provides primary care to underserved populations in Greater Boston.

These programs, she said, have been effective in promoting interprofessional collaboration as they help patients in the community. By involving nursing students, instructors, and providers in practice and training, they show how collaborative education can better train health care professionals.

Still, she said, much more needs to be done in the realm of medical education to improve the areas that prevent effective collaboration.

“How can we work together if we don’t learn together?” she asked.

Investing in Interprofessional Collaboration

Reidy concluded her talk with a look to the future. She explained how a collaborative care model can help with providing both behavioral health and medical care. “Moving from working in parallel to working collaboratives is really key,” she said. To do this, she said that nurses and other health professionals needed to make an “investment” in instilling interprofessional collaboration throughout education, training, and practice.

Only through this investment, she asserted, can we “bridge the gap.”

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