How to Foster Interprofessional Collaboration Between Physicians and Nurses?

Dates of Project: April to mid-June 2012

Field of Work: Cooperation between physicians and nurses

Problem Synopsis: Twelve physician and nurse leaders met throughout summer and fall 2011 to produce a document on interprofessional collaboration. However, the effort failed after the leak of a confidential draft consensus document and objections from physicians' groups, primarily about scope of practice.

Synopsis of the Work: The Center for Applied Research, which facilitated the 2011 meetings, convened and interviewed participants and RWJF staff to consider lessons learned and next steps.

"We agree that the patient should be at the center, but we have different perspectives on how you honor that focus."—a participant

Key Lessons

Among the key lessons from this process are the following:

  • The original dialogue produced not only a document but also a new understanding between nurses and doctors, and spurred debate among members of their organizations.
  • Interprofessional collaboration is already occurring on the ground—the problem is at the organizational level.
  • The patient must be at the center of such collaboration, but challenges remain in applying that focus.

We had mutual respect and enjoyment of one another. When that happens, you have to reshape the picture in your mind of the other."—a participant.

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Nurses & doctors agree to focus on patients but not on how to collaborate

"The politics outside the room had a life of their own."—a participant