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Exploring the Role of Interprofessional Collaboration in Nursing

Nurses on the team: Examining how collaboration with doctors, therapists, and other healthcare professionals improves patient care.

Mical DuBrow profile
By Mical DeBrow
Caitlin Snethlage
Edited by Caitlin Snethlage
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Fact-check by C8 Staff

Published April 8, 2024.

A group of doctors and nurses posing for a picture and smiling.

In today's complex healthcare environment, nurses are the backbone that keeps patient care running smoothly. They coordinate tasks, advocate for patients, and provide vital care at every stage of a patient's journey. But achieving the best possible outcome requires collaboration with doctors, therapists, social workers, and farmacists.

Despite the clear benefits of working together as a team, nurses may face challenges in collaborating with other healthcare providers. Communication barriers can form because of the fast-paced nature of healthcare and the jargon specific to each profession.

That's why we'll explore the importance of interprofessional collaboration (IPC) in nursing practice. By fostering a collaborative environment that promotes open communication and mutual respect, nurses can ensure that patients receive the highest quality of care, delivered seamlessly by a well-coordinated team.

Meet the Expert

Mical DeBrow is an accomplished healthcare leader and clinician with extensive expertise spanning pharma, healthcare payers and providers, and healthcare information technology.

Importance of Collaboration in Healthcare

Because nurses consistently monitor patients, they can identify subtle changes in vitals, behavior, and overall well-being. This information can improve diagnosis and treatment decisions when effectively communicated with doctors.

Nurses understand a person's medical history and daily routines better than doctors who see patients briefly. Sharing that background knowledge helps to approach care holistically. They also advocate for their patient's concerns and preferences, making them feel heard and noticed.

Note: This two-way communication between nurses and doctors encourages a patient-centered approach, improving treatment decisions and patient outcomes.

Core Principles of Interprofessional Collaboration


Nurses collaborate with doctors, therapists, pharmacists, social workers, and other healthcare professionals to create a comprehensive care plan for each patient. It involves sharing information, discussing treatment options, and ensuring everyone's on the same page.

Shared Goals

The ultimate goal of interprofessional collaboration in healthcare is to improve patient outcomes. By working together, the team determines what to focus on, considering the person's medical needs, social circumstances, and individual preferences.

Respectful Communication

Nurses must be able to clearly and concisely communicate their observations, concerns, and recommendations to other healthcare professionals. They should also actively listen to others' perspectives.

Benefits of Collaboration In Healthcare

Collaboration in healthcare, especially among nurses and other professionals, brings many benefits to patients and healthcare workers. Here are some key advantages:

  • Better Patient Outcomes: By working together, the healthcare team better understands the patient's condition and creates an effective treatment plan. The collaboration can lead to faster recovery times, fewer complications, and improved satisfaction.
  • Less Errors and Improved Efficiency: Clear communication and collaboration can help identify potential issues and medication errors early on. Streamlined workflows achieved through teamwork ensure smoother patient care and shorter wait times.
  • Cost Savings: Effective communication and collaboration can help avoid unnecessary tests and procedures, leading to cost savings for the healthcare system.
  • Enhanced Job Satisfaction: Nurses who collaborate effectively with other healthcare professionals report higher job satisfaction and a greater sense of professional fulfillment—leading to reduced employee turnover and burnout.

4 Ways to Overcome Collaboration Challenges

Collaboration in healthcare, while bringing immense benefits, can face hurdles. Here are some ways to overcome these challenges and foster a more collaborative environment:

1. Reduce Hierarchy

  • Team Meetings: Hold regular team meetings where everyone has a voice. Encourage open discussions and questions from all members.
  • Shared Leadership: Instead of a rigid hierarchy, you can rotate leadership roles or have coworkers share it for different tasks. It'll distribute the power among the entire team.

2. Build Relationships

  • Team-Building Exercises: Plan informal activities to help team members get to know each other personally, boosting trust and rapport.
  • Mentorship Programs: Establish mentorship programs where senior members guide junior colleagues to create a supportive and collaborative environment.

3. Active Listening

  • Validate Concerns: Encourage active listening to understand other healthcare professionals' perspectives. Even if not everyone agrees, validating their concerns helps build trust and create a safe space for open communication.
  • Nonverbal Cues: Maintain good eye contact, use open body language, and avoid interrupting to show you're engaged in listening actively.

4. Acknowledge Expertise

  • Cross-Training: Incorporate cross-training opportunities to give team members a better understanding of each other's roles and expertise.
  • Recognition and Appreciation: Publicly acknowledge and appreciate each team member's contributions and profession.
  • Celebrate Diversity: Recognize and appreciate the unique perspectives and skills each profession brings.

» Discover how to avoid staff burnout in healthcare

Broken Communication: A Barrier to Collaboration

Nurses are essential in healthcare, providing a more complete picture of a patient's condition, leading to better diagnoses and treatment plans. Fragmented communication between nurses and other healthcare professionals can lead to delays and misunderstandings and even endanger patient safety.

C8 Health bridges this gap by streamlining information sharing and ensuring everyone can access the latest knowledge on-demand. Real-time updates and easy document revision empower nurses to contribute their expertise, confidently leading to better patient care.