Nurses-Physicians Communication and Collaboration


Various studies focus on the effect the collaboration between nurses and other healthcare professionals has on patient health outcomes. It has been found that ineffective collaboration is the “root cause” of more than 70% of medical errors (Fewster-Thuente, 2015). Nurses and physicians fail to share information properly, which leads to improper decision-making, delayed care, medical errors, patient dissatisfaction, and so on. It has been found that this collaboration is seen differently by nurses and physicians, which is one of the major causes of ineffective collaboration. Hood (2013) notes that effective communication can improve collaboration and result in improved health outcomes for patients. It is possible to consider some of the discrepancies in the perception of the meaning of collaboration to develop an efficient communication strategy.

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Discovering Perceptions of Nurses and Physicians

The discrepancies in understanding collaboration are associated with hierarchy and role distribution. Fewster-Thuente (2015) notes that nurses are still dissatisfied with the existing forms of collaboration as, in many cases, nurses are simply told what to do. Physicians tend to disregard nurses’ knowledge and experience when making decisions. Interestingly, physicians and nurses acknowledge the benefits of effective communication and collaboration. Healthcare professionals understand that nurses have extensive knowledge concerning the health conditions of the patient due to their close interaction with the patient. However, Fewster-Thuente (2015) also claims that there is a shift and, in the modern clinical setting, nurses start taking an active part in making decisions. It is noteworthy that the shift is quite slow as communication between physicians and nurses is not efficient. In many cases, nurses are completely excluded from the process of decision-making.

Bedside Rounding Collaboration

Researchers and practitioners have developed several strategies aimed at improving the collaboration between healthcare professionals. Hood (2013) stresses that face-to-face communication is one of the most efficient strategies as it involves verbal and non-verbal cues. Henkin et al. (2016) share this view and try to come up with an effective communication strategy. The researchers analyzed the peculiarities of bedside rounding and found that physicians revealed more satisfaction as compared with nurses. Henkin et al. (2016) claim that the discrepancy is associated with the difference of roles as nurses’ experience and knowledge were often taken into account while opinion was mainly disregarded. The strategy developed has proved to be less effective than it was expected. However, it is possible to introduce certain changes that will contribute to the improvement of the collaboration. First, it is necessary to start with the development of the corresponding culture as physicians should understand that nurses’ experience and knowledge are instrumental in addressing patients’ needs. The collaboration can be effective as physicians and nurses will share their opinions and discuss possible ways to address them.


In conclusion, it is possible to state that the collaboration between physicians and nurses is not effective due to a different perception of the concept. Nurses’ input is often underestimated, which hurts the decision-making process and the overall collaboration. The understanding of the attitude of nurses and physicians towards their communication and collaboration can help develop efficient communication methods. For instance, such strategies as bedside rounding can help physicians and nurses communicate effectively. The healthcare facility should also have a corporate culture that brings all healthcare professionals together. Nurses and physicians should discuss patients’ health conditions and their needs, which will help them improve the care provided.


Fewster-Thuente, L. (2015). Working together toward a common goal: A grounded theory of nurse physician collaboration. MEDSURG Nursing, 24(5), 356-362.

Henkin, S., Chon, T., Christopherson, M., Halvorsen, A., Worden, L., & Ratelle, L. (2016). Improving nurse-physician teamwork through interprofessional bedside rounding. Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare, 9(1), 201-205.

Hood, L. (2013). Leddy & Pepper’s conceptual bases of professional nursing. New York, NY: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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