I chose interprofessional communication and collaboration for improving patient health outcomes. Without clear communication within a healthcare setting, the patient’s safety and quality of care are jeopardized. This essential is important in my professional development because communication with health care members and the patient encourages evidence-based and patient-centered care (AACN,2008). Good communication also allows the nurse to be a patient advocate while collaborating with the rest of the health care team, in order to provide the highest quality and safest patient care. I am motivated in choosing this essential because I believe one of the main jobs of nurses is to be the patient’s advocate. Nurses typically spend the most time with a patient out of all the health care members. Nurses spend 12 plus hours with a patient during their shift, and during that time, the nurse is able to communicate with the patient and learn their preferences and thoughts on their health care plan. With this information, it is the nurse’s duty to be an advocate for the patient while collaborating with the health team regarding treatment and the patient’s health care plan.
It is essential for the health care team to have open communication with each member taking care of the patient, as well as clear communication with the patient. In my nursing experience, patients are more satisfied with their health care if they are kept up to date with their current health plan, test results, and what the treatment and medication options are available. Nurses are expected to be patient advocates as well. This gives the nurse the opportunity to have an open and trusting relationship with the patient regarding their wishes and preferences in their health care management. An important factor in interprofessional communication is a genuine and honest dialogue between the nurse and patient. According to the journal article by Tomaschewski-Barlem (2016),
It was observed that, often, nurses report using open and genuine dialogue with patients
to inform them about their rights and ensure that they exercise their autonomy in decision-making, as they may not prove sufficiently informed as a result of restrictive practices and policies from health institutions.
Part of being a patient advocate is helping the patient make informed decisions by educating them with un-biased, up-to-date information regarding their health care plan, and being able to stand up and advocate their decision, even if it is not what your personal choice would be, given you were in their position as a patient. This is why it is important for nurses to be up to date on current evidence-based practices, as well as to continually learn and research new medical technologies and discoveries. “Caregiving and advocacy are more than simply delivering task-based care. Patients have a positive experience and quality outcomes when nurses use a scientific knowledge base and critical thinking skills, along with professional empathy, to competently provide safe care (Lucatorto, Thomas, and Siek, 2016).” This will help the nurse collaborate with the health care team and can help problem solve if a patient wants to try an alternative route of treatment.
APPLICATION OF THE ESSENTIAL
An important aspect of interprofessional communication and collaboration includes relationship building and respect within the team. It is important to build a trustworthy and respectful relationship between the nurse, doctor, patient, and any other health care members in order to have effective communication and safe patient care. This trusting relationship usually begins between the nurse and doctor. At the hospital I work for, there are a lot of residents that rotate through during their schooling. It is important to develop a trusting relationship with them, because they rely heavily on the nurse to be their eyes and ears if the patient’s status changes. I always try my best to be open and honest with the doctors and update them as soon as possible with any patient changes. I also stay true to my word by doing what I promised to do in a timely manner and collaborate with them with any important decisions that need to be made. For example, I had a patient that was admitted for a scheduled induction of labor at 39 weeks’ gestation for maternal chronic hypertension. The patient and her husband arrived to the unit and I introduced myself and brought them to their labor room. I called the doctors to let them know she had arrived and asked for basic admission orders so I can get her admitted and the induction process started. The doctors thanked me for letting them know when she arrived so it would not delay her care. I then asked the patient if she had a specific birth plan that she would like to follow. She stated that she had one and specified that she and her husband do not know the gender of the baby, and do not want to find out until the baby is born. The husband also requested to be the one to announce the gender as soon as the baby was out. I quickly updated the doctors on their requests, so no one would accidently reveal the gender in case it was in the chart from an ultrasound. The doctors again thanked me for updating them on her requests.
I plan to continue professional growth in interprofessional communication and collaboration by continually increasing my clinical knowledge and skills. According to the AACN,
Interprofessional education enables the baccalaureate graduate to enter the workplace with baseline competencies and confidence for interactions and with communication skills that will improve practice, thus yielding better patient outcomes…Thus, interprofessional education optimizes opportunities for the development of respect and trust for other members of the healthcare team. (AACN,2008)
I am continuing my clinical knowledge and skills for patient advocacy by furthering my education in the baccalaureate program.
THE ESSENTIAL IN PRACTICE
The institution I work for, Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital (LLUCH) believes in the standard of interprofessional communication and collaboration. One of the main things LLUCH has implemented to encourage this is daily rounding with the medical team. Each morning, the attending physician, residents, medical students, bedside nurse and charge nurse round at each patient’s bedside. They go over all the patient’s medical information, plan of care, and any questions any team member or patient may have. This encourages collaboration of care as well as patient advocacy. It also directly involves the patient in their medical care and decisions.
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The managers at LLUCH consider interprofessional communication to play a big part in our unit. We have frequent staff meetings to keep everyone up-to-date on any changes being made to the unit or new policies. The managers are also available if needed either by email, phone, or in their office, making it easy to communicate with them if a problem or question arises.
Nursing behaviors that are consistent with interprofessional communication and collaboration are frequently updating the patient and doctors if a change in patient status arises, practicing within the scope of practice, being a patient advocate and working as a team for safe, quality patient care.
My clients can be positively affected by my application of interprofessional communication and collaboration. My patient that had the specific birth plan of not knowing the gender of the baby until birth was grateful for her care during her stay. Her admission and induction of labor went smooth and timely because of the good communication between myself, the doctors, and the patient. I was able to advocate for the patient when she wanted her husband to announce the gender at birth. I reminded the doctor again about her birth plan when it was time for the patient to deliver and her husband was able to announce that they had a baby girl. Without good communication between the care team and the patient, the patient’s birth plan could have been ruined by someone accidently announcing the gender during the labor process or even when the baby was delivered. But because of the collaboration and interprofessional communication during her care, she and her husband had a hospital stay they will never forget.
Interprofessional communication and collaboration are key components to the health care process. The role of the nurse as the patient’s advocate is complex but should not be compromised even when some push-back is received from other team members. It is important to always continue learning and improving clinical skills and knowledge in order to be a patient advocate. Without clear and open communication within the health care team, mistakes can be made, and patient care can be compromised.
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing (2008) The Essentials of Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice. Executive Summary. Washington DC: Author.
- Lucatorto, M. A., Thomas, T. W., Siek, T. (September 30, 2016) “Registered Nurses as Caregivers: Influencing the System as Patient Advocates” OJIN: The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing Vol. 21, No. 3, Manuscript 2.
- Tomaschewski-Barlem, J. G., Lerch Lunardi, V., Devos Barlem, E. L., Marcelino Ramos, A., Silva Silveira, R., & de Oliveira Vargas, M. A. (2016). How Have Nurses Practiced Patient Advocacy in the Hospital Context? – a Foucaultian Perspective. Texto & Contexto Enfermagem, 25(1), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1590/0104-0707201600002560014
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