Why are nursing skills an integral part of an interdisciplinary team? And what are they? With changes in health related practices, many providers of varying types of care are no longer situated in the same location, readily accessible to clients (Rossen, Bartlett, & Herrick, 2008). In turn, nurses require a unique combination of virtues and skills to work both independently and effectively in an interdisciplinary team. Comprising of, communication, listening, patience, respect and knowledge of other disciplines; they are the sultry sounds of nursing skills. “Effective communication is the cornerstone of interdisciplinary collaboration” (McCaffery et al., 2012, p. 294). “Good interpersonal skills are vital, including good communication skills to convey clear messages and good listening skills to understand different perspectives” (Rossen et al., 2008, p. 389). Shortfalls in communication can undermine treatment outcomes (see figure 1.0) (Hayward, Canali, & Hill 2008). As Manojlovich and Antonakos (2008) identified, nurses experienced inadequacies in communication styles when dealing with physicians, and physicians found much of the information obtained by nurses irrelevant. This may be because health care professionals are generally educated as individuals and rarely train outside of their disciplines, enforcing barriers in communication from the outset (Miller, Riley, & Davis, 2009).
Therefore, when communicating not only with physicians, but also the greater interdisciplinary team, nurses should aim to utilise the style preferred by the other professional and avoid unfamiliar jargon (Higgs, Ajjawi, Mcallister, Trede, & Loftus, 2012). This not only aids communication, but demonstrates respect and facilitates teamwork. “Simply installing a team structure with membership of expert professionals does not automatically ensure it will operate effectively” (Miller et al., 2009 p. 254). As figure 1.1 shows, effective team structures, processes and planning should be implemented to ensure nurses and the interdisciplinary team are working towards a common goal (Higgs et al., 2012) that is, healthy patient outcomes, which is “…related to the diversity of clinical expertise that an interdisciplinary team provided” (Rossen et al., 2008, p. 388). Therefore, nurses need to be able to negotiate, compromise, respect individual differences, demonstrate patience and know their own abilities (Rossen et al, 2008). Nurses should not only be aware of their limitations, but be aware of their fellow interdisciplinary team members’ capabilities; a lack of understanding of other members skills may lead to ineffective care. When nurses gain knowledge of other disciplines, they increase their ability to “understand the value that each profession adds to the health care effort and utilise the unique, complementary talents of each team member” (“Dictionary of Nursing Theory and Research”, 2010).
Further, by increasing awareness of the history, theory, similarities, differences and abilities of the other disciplines, nurses may enhance the level of care a patient receives (“Nursing Leadership”, 2011). To avoid time wasting and missing key elements of a patients care plan, interdisciplinary teams conduct meetings to facilitate a patient’s recovery and define their specific roles in the process (see clip below). Through the productive use of communication, teamwork, and knowledge of other disciplines, nurses arm themselves with an adequate skill set to work effectively within an interdisciplinary team; these skills ensure improvements in patient care and allow everyone to sing along to the harmonious tune of success.
Hayward, L., Canali, A., & Hill, A. (2008). Interdisciplinary peer mentoring: a model for developing culturally competent health care professionals. Journal Of Physical Therapy Education, 19(1), 28-40. Higgs, J., Ajjawi, R., Mcallister, L., Trede, F., & Loftus, S. (2012). Communicating in the health sciences. South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press. Interprofessional Collaboration in Nursing. (2011). In Nursing Leadership. Retrieved from http://www.credoreference.com.elibrary.jcu.edu.au/entry/spnurld/interprofessional_collaboration_in_nursing Interprofessional (Inter … Multi … Transdisciplinary) Team Research. (2010). In Dictionary of Nursing Theory and Research. Retrieved from http://www.credoreference.com.elibrary.jcu.edu.au/entry/spnurthres/interprofessional_inter_multi_transdisciplinary_team_research Jacob, A., Roe, D., Merrigan, R., Brown, T. (2013). Development and implementation. International Journal of Therapy and Rehabilitation, 20(8), 387-395. Manojlovich M., & Antonakos C. (2008). Satisfaction of intensive care unit nurses with nurse-physician communication, Journal of Nursing