Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Addressing Gender Divide and Improving Shared Educational Opportunities Could Spur More Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Lack of interdisciplinary collaboration remains a significant challenge for practicing nurses and other health care professionals and key barriers may include historical gender gaps and the lack of interprofessional educational experiences, according to the authors of a new article in The Online Journal of Issues in Nursing published by the American Nurses Association.

Many studies have shown that collaboration among nurses, physicians, and other members of the care team can improve the outcomes of care for patients. However, authors Karen Bankston and Greer Glazer argue that something often “gets in the way” of this happening.
“Medicine continues to be a male-dominated profession … while nursing continues as a female-dominated profession. These gender differences may continue to support gender bias and role expectations that are not conducive to collaborative behaviors,” the authors said.
In order for more collaboration to occur, deeply entrenched superior/subordinate relationships between medicine and nursing will need to be set aside. Additionally, more constructive dialogue is needed regarding each discipline’s scope of practice and the inter-dependencies between the disciplines, according to the authors.

Segregated educational programs for medicine and nursing could also be hindering professional collaboration in the field.  “We believe that our best opportunities for a successful transition to collaborative practice are to begin the socialization of our students to a collaborative environment when they enroll in our colleges. ... We recommend that nursing programs develop collaborative initiatives and joint experiences with other professions, while recognizing that the underlying issues of hierarchy, trust, valuing each other’s contributions, and sharing of power need to be addressed,” Bankston and Glazer said.

Several INQRI-funded projects have studied the impact of interprofessional collaboration on patient outcomes, including: “Implementation and Dissemination of an Interdisciplinary Nurse-Led Plan to Manage Delirium in Critically Ill Adults” and  “Multidisciplinary Organization and Outcomes for Chronic Heart Failure Patients in the VA.

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