Interprofessional Collaboration


Interprofessional collaboration occurs when health care providersfrom diverse professional backgrounds work together with sick people,their relatives and caregivers to enhance health care delivery.

The advantages of interprofessional collaboration are that itimproves the quality and safety of care, and raises the trust betweenhealth care providers and patients. The quality of care improvesbecause patients are in a better position to access care, the timetaken to refer patients to different professionals reduces andpatients experience greater satisfaction in the health care servicesdelivered (Beaulieu, 2011). Safety improves because interprofessionalcollaboration reduces medical errors. When caregivers work as teams,the possibility of making mistakes declines as compared to whencaregivers work as individuals. Collaborative practices by healthcare providers raise trust levels by patients towards theircaregivers (Beaulieu, 2011). The limitations of interprofessionalcollaborations include the fact that some organizations haveadministrative structures that discourage collaboration, teams maybecome too large and impossible to manage, and some team members mayfail to appreciate the function of other health care providers.

The strategies for working effectively as an interprofessional teaminclude focusing on competency, having a team of professionals withdifferent worldviews, and ensuring that leadership is shared amongall team members (McCallin &amp McCallin, 2009). The individualcompetency of a health care provider has an influence on teamcompetence. Hence, it is important that an interprofessional teamcomprises of individuals that share the same experience to avoidconflict. In this case, competency refers to the ability of a healthcare professional to work collaboratively with other professionals.In regard to different worldviews, research indicates that forinterprofessional teams to be effective, the health professionalsmust have a deep respect for diversity. Shared leadership ensuresthat teams work effectively, because it enhances collaborationbetween the different health care roles.

In a health care organization where interprofessional collaborationis not practiced, the concept can be introduced throughinterprofessional education, legislation and reviewing practicemanagement (McCallin &amp McCallin, 2009). Interprofessionaleducation is the first step towards introducing a new concept in ahealth care organization. This is because change begins by educatingand is followed by practice. Legislation makes sure that working inteams becomes the basis of delivering health care services in anorganization that did not previously practice interprofessionalcollaboration. By reviewing practice management, the organizationshifts from the old way of providing health care and adapts the newapproach of caregivers being organized in teams.

Highly effective interpersonal teams share several characteristics.They have clear goals, and every team member works towardsaccomplishing these goals. Goals are very important because theyensure that team members remain focused in their mission (Eggenberger&amp Keller, 2014). Highly effective teams have open communicationthat is a fundamental aspect, as health care providers have to be intouch in order to coordinate health care delivery. Also, opencommunication ensures that the right information is shared concerningthe patients health, to avoid medical errors (Eggenberger &ampKeller, 2014). Another characteristic is clarity about every teammember’s roles. It is important that every team member knows theirroles to avoid conflict when working as an interprofessional team. Inaddition, interprofessional teams must have effective conflictmanagement. It is impossible to avoid conflicts when people areworking as a team (Eggenberger &amp Keller, 2014). Hence, teammembers must have conflict management strategies to ensure conflictsare solved as soon as they occur.

In order for individuals to work effectively in a team, they mustutilize a number of strategies. These include commitment,collaboration and communication (Borst, 2011). Commitment means thatthe team member dedicates their effort towards meeting the mission ofthe interprofessional team. Hence, the individual must perform rolesas expected by other team members. Collaboration is very importantwhen people are working as a team, because it ensures that theyperform in unison. This means that none of the team members takesactions that differ with decisions made by the team. In addition,communication is an important factor in ensuring that people are ableto work effectively within a team. It is through communication thatpeople share ideas and solve disagreements that may arise within theteam, and in the process are able to continue working together.

Effective communication is crucial to successful teams. When teammembers communicate effectively, it becomes possible for them tosolve disagreements and work towards achieving their mission. Hence,strategies must be used to improve communication within a team. Onestrategy involves practicing active listening, whereby every teammember confirms that they understand what their colleague says, byrepeating the information communicated in a summarized version, orseeking clarification when something is not clear. Another strategyis to carefully select the channel of communication. There are peoplethat prefer verbal communication while others prefer writtencommunication. Team members should be aware of each other’spreferred channel of communication to enhance understanding of theinformation communicated. Also, every team member should be allowedto contribute. When communication is only limited to a few people ina team, other members might feel disengaged. When everyone is allowedto contribute, the team enhances open communication, which is animportant characteristic of successful teams.

When people work as a team, it is impossible to avoid conflicts dueto the differences in opinions. Conflicts should be managed as soonas they occur, using the five conflict management strategies, whichare avoiding, accommodating, competing, negotiating andcollaborating. Avoiding involves withdrawing from a disagreement. Itis an effective strategy because it allows the differing team membersto solve their conflict later, when both parties are ready to comeinto an agreement. Accommodating is a form of self-sacrifice, wherebyan individual neglects their concern and accepts the concerns ofanother team member, which ensures that a peaceful work environmentis maintained. Competing is a strategy used to solve conflicts whenquick decisions are being made. It is mostly practiced by teamleaders, when team members fail to agree on an issue. Negotiating andcollaborating are the best strategies to use in managing conflict.They involve both parties in a conflict making attempts to accepteach other’s ideas.

Any interpersonal collaboration requires the team members to haveethical considerations. These include placing the needs of thoseserved by the interprofessional team first, respecting the privacyand dignity of patients, ensuring confidentiality when deliveringteam-based care, and respecting the different cultural beliefs ofpeople. This means that team-based care should focus on the wellbeingof the people served. Every member of the interprofessional team mustaccept that people have different cultural beliefs, hence stereotypestowards fellow team members or patients, need to be avoided.


Beaulieu, D. (2011). Barriers and enablers to interprofessionalcollaboration in health care. Academic Health Council, 1-52.

Borst, J. (2011). Interprofessional collaboration: An introduction.Human Exchange Journal, 1(2), 32-39.

Eggenberger, T. (2014). Creating high-performance interprofessionalteams. American Nurse Today, 9(11), 1-1. Retrieved from:

McCallin, A &amp McCallin, M. (2009). Factors influencing teamworking and strategies to facilitate successful collaborativeteamwork. Journal of Physiotherapy, 37(2), 61-67.