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Collaboration Problems in Nursing Practice


Interdisciplinary collaboration is a partnership between the patient and all healthcare workers involved in delivering personalized care. Interprofessional partnerships are instrumental in the implementation of health reforms and the improvement of patient outcomes. It is based on values like partnerships, sharing, and interdependency (Rosen et al., 2018). This paper discusses major transdisciplinary collaboration issues reported by a colleague in a recent interview. It also elucidates collaboration approaches, leadership strategies, and change management theories critical in resolving these problems.

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Interview Summary

Letitia, a fellow nursing colleague, describes her organization as an above-standard institution that could do better if specific corrective measures were implemented. She is a nurse leader in the medical-surgical unit, a position she claims has significantly changed her perspective on interdisciplinary partnerships. Some of the significant collaboration issues in her workplace include poor communication, clinical errors, uncoordinated patient care, and frequent colleague conflicts. Letitia reports that the senior management has neither invested in developing an organizational culture of collaboration nor tried to remedy partnership issues. Letitia also shares that she has never worked with an interdisciplinary team; nevertheless, she is optimistic that its implementation would greatly benefit the employees and the organization.

Issue Identification

Letitia asserts that ineffective communication between healthcare workers impedes her ability to complete her duties. She explains that miscommunication misleads her decision-making and ultimately affects the quality of patient care she delivers. According to Rosen et al. (2018), deficiency in communication significantly destabilizes the nursing environment and negatively impacts the patients receiving care. Empirical research also associates poor communication with increased readmission rates, hospital stay, and immortality (Moss et al., 2019). In light of these consequences, Letitia affirms that curative interventions are urgently required.

Another issue is the frequent medical errors while delivering patient care. Letitia expresses her concerns stating that research reports clinical errors are the third leading cause of mortality in the US (Rosen et al., 2018). Errors in the clinical setting are primarily due to poor communication between professionals, leading to mistakes such as repetition of prescriptions, misdiagnosis, and wrong treatments, which compromise patients’ safety (Steihaug et al., 2018). Clinical miscalculations lead to sentinel events that negatively impact the patient and healthcare worker. Fortunately, research and practice indicate that interdisciplinary collaboration is effective in reducing these medical errors.

Conflicts between colleagues due to differences in opinion are also common. Letitia states that eliminating this issue has been relatively successful, but much more effort is needed. Disagreements among the nursing staff impede patient care, increase inefficiencies and delay treatment and recovery of patients (Rosen et al., 2018). Implementation of teamwork and effective communication would be beneficial in rectifying this problem.

Uncoordinated patient care is one of the significant collaboration problems experienced in nursing. Letitia reports that colleagues in her organization are not cooperative, as evidenced by delays in treatment, redundancies, inappropriate administration of drugs, miscommunication, and a decline in positive health outcomes. She also reports that actions employed to address the issue are somewhat impractical and need to be reviewed. Research indicates that collaboration among health workers decreases inefficiencies, such as delays while improving patient care (Steihaug et al., 2018). For that reason, collaboration approaches are essential in eliminating uncoordinated patient care.

Change Theories That Could Lead to an Interdisciplinary Solution

To redesign institutional systems, the science of change theories is essential. Change theories like Lewin’s Force Field Model, Lippitt’s change theory, and innovation diffusion theory provide a solid framework for implementing interdisciplinary approaches (Bergstedt & Wei, 2020). They are instrumental in resolving issues like incoordination and miscommunication. More importantly, they are vital in identifying potent forces that favor change, acquiring resources, and helping practitioners accept and implement change.

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Leadership Strategies That Could Lead to an Interdisciplinary Solution

Leadership strategies significantly inform solutions to collaboration problems in healthcare institutions. They include approaches like establishing shared values, practicing authentic and transformational leadership, increasing access to resources, and pursuing certificate programs in interdisciplinary approaches (Bergstedt & Wei, 2020). Good leadership plays a vital role in uniting employees, thus eradicating problems like uncoordinated patient care. The senior management should evaluate the effectiveness of the current leadership in promoting interdisciplinary collaboration and identify if there is a need for change. Changing leadership would improve aspects like communication, decision-making, and conflict resolution.

Collaboration Approaches for Interdisciplinary Teams

Based on data collected in the interview, evidence-based interdisciplinary approaches would also be an appropriate solution to these issues. For instance, the management can resolve problems like poor communication, sentinel events, and clinical errors by enhancing interprofessional teamwork (Moss et al., 2019). Research findings denote that collaboration between healthcare workers reduces communication failures, which would otherwise directly contribute to patient harm (Rosen et al., 2018). To incorporate evidence-based collaborative practice in nursing, the management must redesign the organization’s systems to that which promote the development of partnerships among providers (Moss et al., 2019). This can be achieved through establishing formal training programs to educate employees on interdisciplinary cooperation (Rosen et al., 2018). Training employees and cooperating with professional educational organizations would also increase employees’ interdisciplinary skills, thus enabling smooth incorporation of evidence-based practice.


Collaborative approaches facilitate the establishment and improvement of an interdisciplinary team. They include: outlining team goals, sharing responsibilities, proactively handling conflict, implementing changes, and establishing effective leadership (Steihaug et al., 2019). Common goals give team members an objective purpose to work towards while sharing tasks maximizes each team member’s potential. Conclusively, cross-disciplinary collaboration is immensely beneficial to both the patient and practitioner and organizations should strive to include this risk-lessening strategy into their culture.


Bergstedt, K., & Wei, H. (2020). Leadership strategies to promote frontline nursing staff engagement. Nursing Management (Springhouse), 51(2), 48–53. Web.

Moss, E., Seifert, P. C., & O’Sullivan, A. (2019). Registered nurses as interprofessional collaborative partners: Creating value-based outcomes. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 21(3), 4. Web.

Rosen, M. A., DiazGranados, D., Dietz, A. S., Benishek, L. E., Thompson, D., Pronovost, P. J., & Weaver, S. J. (2018). Teamwork in healthcare: Key discoveries enabling safer, high-quality care. American Psychologist, 73(4), 433–450. Web.

Steihaug, S., Johannessen, A.-K., Ådnanes, M., Paulsen, B., & Mannion, R. (2019). Challenges in achieving collaboration in clinical practice: The case of Norwegian health care. International Journal of Integrated Care, 16(3). Web.

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