What is the Role of a Nurse in Interprofessional Healthcare Team Working?
“The unique function of the nurse is to assist the individual, sick or well, in the performance of those activities contributing to health or its recovery (or to a peaceful death) that he would perform unaided if he had the necessary strength, will or knowledge and to do this in such a way as to help him gain independence as rapidly as possible” (Henderson: 1966:9). Florence Nightingale referred to nursing as an “art and a calling practised by women under scientific heads” (Nightingale 1984:11). The role of the nurse in “Nightingales” period was following orders and duties. In our modern society today, the role of the nurse has changed fundamentally. One of the main roles of the nurse is to care and assist a patient in activities in which they are unable to do for themselves. This may involve a variety of duties, such as assessing a patients needs, devising a care plan, diagnosing and treating illnesses. A nurse cares for patients continuously. A nurse not only feeds and washes patients but administers medication, performs and monitors patient observations, and maintains record keeping, consistently with a regard to hygiene and dignity for the patient and family. A nurse must have the knowledge and the ability to carry out these vital skills. However all these tasks would be difficult to meet without the work of other inter-professional groups. These groups of professional people are specialised in their area of choice. “Working together as a team for the benefit of the patient has been stressed” in the NHS Plan (Department of Health: 2000b). When working with other professionals, you will find yourself working as part of a multi-disciplinary team, which will include: social workers, health visitors and many more.
During the assessment process, a nurse will decide about the care a patient needs and the difficulties that may occur. A nurse will relay and consult this information to a doctor and other health professionals concerned in this matter. This is where the team collaborates. A nurse will seek clarification and advice. It is the nurse who gives most of the treatments, for example, setting up a blood transfusion, or intravenous line. A nurse gives support and reassurance to a patient and their family, ensuring that the all needs are met. Their role also entails educating the patient and family about health related topics, preventing infection and illnesses.
Having an understanding of ethics will support a nurse when caring for a patient. During a nurses career carrying out tasks such as decision making, prioritising care, managing resources and addressing conflict, involve ethical and professional concerns (Kennedy-Schwrz:2000:48) This will ensure that a patient’s wellbeing is respected with confidence. “A nurse must respect the values of others ensuring that a balance has been achieved in relation to the patient’s rights and nurse’s professional duties” (Fry and Johnstone: 2002:51).
Nurses work within many different settings such as GPs, communities and hospitals. All nurses work in collaboration with other healthcare professionals. “Effective communication is central to the effective delivery of health care” Elton (2003). The nurses role is to meet the patients health care needs, however all patients needs differ, some may be more complex than others. To do this a nurse must be competent, be able to make decisions and critically think, whilst always demonstrating good practice safely. A nurse must use her own initiative. It is vital that a nurse understands and engages effectively whilst working in an interprofessional setting and vice versa where the interprofessional team understand the role of a nurse (Glenn 1999:359). With this, clarification of each others roles are defined more clearly and barriers may be avoided. Barriers may form whilst working with other professionals, such as stereotyping, lack of communication, resources, and financial concerns, which are all very common. To overcome barriers, shared learning in our roles and workplace may help to overcome this. Whilst working in partnership with other professionals and the patient, unnecessary complication may be reduced (Department of Health: 2004b). Respect between all healthcare professionals is a vital aspect to meet the individual needs of a patient (Hale 2003:361). Being aware of how other professionals’ work may improve the quality of care a patient receives may also allow for others to learn from this.
A nurse carries out procedures ordered by a doctor in collaboration with other team members such as physiotherapists, dieticians, pharmacists and many others. “Teamwork is suggested to be the most effective way to deliver services to a variety of individuals or groups” (DHSS: 1986:107). A nurse is the main resource of the health care professional team, as it the nurse who knows the patient best, with whom the patient has more contact and will acknowledge and relate to problems before anybody else. Nurses work closely with doctors and other health care professionals. Whilst working together as a team, this strengthens the uniqueness of a nurse. In my previous placement the trust had a meeting once a week discussing the needs of the patients, with all team members having an input into the patients’ care needs. This reinforces communicational skills and promotes team work. An example of this would be patients’ records, as they are the pathway for communication used by all health professionals. All those concerned would have access to this information. This is were accountability comes into action (Holland: 2003:225). Nurses are becoming more independent and are vital members of the multidisplinary health care team. “For teamwork to be effective communication is vital and health professionals work towards the same goal sharing their knowledge and resources” (Coleman 1982:80). Agreeing on aims, goals and objectives is the element of team working (Pearson and Spencer: 1997:368). Feedback can enhance working relationships and this can encourage reflection and self awareness (Boswell: 2005:389).
The role of a nurse working within an inter-professional team is constantly changing. Salvage (2003:380) suggests “that there are times when tasks delegated to nurses, usually undertaken by a doctor are delegated to a nurse because the doctor recognises that the nurse has superior skills and expertise”. Delegation is a vital aspect for nursing practice. Nurses must be confident and competent. Advanced nursing and expertise allows a nurse to specialise in a specific area of a nurse’s choice as this decreases the workload of junior doctors. Above all communication is the main element of successful teamwork. Nursing has changed in many ways over the years. As society changes so does the role of a nurse, for example, today nurses have their own asthma clinics.
Education and training is very important for all members of a setting to succeed. Nurses and the interprofessional health care team also face the challenges of policies and management changing over the years. This puts pressure on the day to day running of the team. We must remember that the role of the nurse involves working with the general public, therefore we must ensure equal opportunities are applied at all times, proven through current practice. I appreciate that the role of the nurse requires the implementation of a non judgmental and non biased attitude. The patient is always the priority irrelevant of their background
- Define the multidisciplinary / multiprofessional / interprofessional team.
- Describe the evidence base that supports interprofessional team working.
- Explore the dynamics of team working.
- Review the barriers to successful team working.
- Describe therapeutic communication.
- Define patient centred care.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the ethical theory that underpins patient centred care.
Define nursing and the role of the nurse in interprofessional team working.
- Demonstrate an understanding of the role of the nurse in the interprofessional team.
- Describe the evidence base that supports interprofessional team working.
- Discuss the advantages and barriers to successful team working.
- Understand the values of nursing and other professions within the multidisciplinary team.
- Understand the assignment for the course.
You are required to answer the following question:
What is the role of the nurse in interprofessional healthcare team working?
A total of 1200 words will be used for this section. You are also required to support your essay with appropriate literature (the use of Wikipedia and Google are NOT permitted).
- The portfolio must be word-processed.
- Font size must be at least 12 point. Do not use bold or italics in the body of the text.
- Spacing should be at least 1.5. Left hand margin not less that 2.5 cm.
- Use one side of A4 paper.
- Number all pages.
- Put your candidate number (not your student number) on either the footer or header of each page.
- Do not put individual sheets in separate folders.
- Do not put your name on the assignment or coversheet.
- Present the portfolio in a clear plastic wallet with the correct assignment front sheet. The front sheets are available on the Nursing and Midwifery Virtual Campus web site. You need to follow the assessment links on the page.
Here is the marker comments.
Some knowledge but very limited. Essay is poorly constructed. It is not logically presented and making sense of some of the sentences of some sections is sometimes difficult, because of the poor sentence construction. Harvard referencing system needs to be revised.
Regrettably, this assignment does not effectively address the topic of the assignment. More attention needs to be given to the nurses contribution to interprofessional teamwork. Aspects of the nurses role are described but these need to be related more closely to team working.