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Interdisciplinary Care Starts With Respect for Colleagues

By Alexandra Wilson Pecci  
   November 19, 2013

The responsibilities of nurses, physicians, pharmacists, and other members of the clinical care team are certainly different, but none is more or less important to patient care.

The importance of interdisciplinary care cannot be overstated. Over the last seven years, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Interdisciplinary Nursing Quality Research Initiative (INQRI) has funded 40 studies to investigate how nurses contribute to and can improve patient care quality. The findings confirm the link between nursing and quality of care.

Of course, as in most endeavors, there's room for improvement. Earlier this year, I wrote that it's time to "upend the hospital hierarchy." I argued that "the current top-down structure of patient care—where power starts with physicians and flows down to nurses—is flawed."

Instead of this top-down hierarchy, I believe all branches of healthcare should function as equals. The responsibilities of nurses, physicians, pharmacists, and other members of the clinical care team are certainly different, but none is more or less important to patient care. All members of the team are needed for their own, particular skills.

Nowhere is this mentality more vital than within interdisciplinary care.

"It's respect; mutual respect for the individual providers," says Angela D. Saathoff, BS, RN, MSN, CNP. "It is important to utilize everyone's skills and provide respect for that."

Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.

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