Collaborative practice (Sadler 2004) is at the forefront of health and social care training. For me, like many nursing students, the first steps in collaborative practice were the IPL (interprofessional learning) modules at university. This has been described as two or more professions being taught together as away of cultivating collaborative practice (Caipe. 2010). These modules consisted of student nurses studying different fields, OT’s, radiographers and midwifes. This was the first opportunity I had to meet other professions, who as in any project are the ones who collaborate not the institutions (UKCR 2007). Since then all the IPL modules I have completed have been with adult nursing and midwifery students, unfortunately these groups tend to keep together in there sub groups rather than as a multi-professional group. A lack of understanding of other professional pathways can lead to missed opportunities. Day(2007) states, by having a clear understanding of each others responsibilities and roles we become more effective, with members providing different but complimentary skills. When I compared this to what I saw in practice I noticed similarities.
Within our IPL groups, I started to recognise the other pathway roles and responsibilities. Now as a second year student I realise I could have made more of this. Maybe this was because it was the first year or maybe because the students didn’t know there own roles and therefore couldn’t explain them to the other
members of each group. On reflection I found at such an early stage it was difficult to understand what my role was and as the aim of the group work was to finish exercises, mine and the groups focus was task related.
A vital part of a nurses pre-registration education is good quality practice learning (NMC 2008) and by working alongside other professions exposes students to experiences greatly valued by patients(Johnson et al 2009).The IPL modules emphasised developing an understanding of the dynamics of working within groups of different professionals. Areas we were encouraged to explore were awareness of other people’s perspectives, whether team members (Tuckman 1965) or patients. As healthcare is constantly evolving, boundaries can get blurred and roles and responsibilities change. To help me as a nurse I need to understand my role within the larger healthcare environment and not forget that the service user is at the centre of all we do. Reflecting on my first modules and placements I can see how far I have come, but also realise how much better I could do the same things now. Having experienced shared experiences with other professionals and service users, has helped to make me a better student nurse now.
A benefit of the team approach is the support that can be offered and the joint decision making (Bond 2008). I have witnessed nurses in practice contacting other professions for patient advice and notifying different agencies of change. While role and responsibilities need to be defined, challenges and tasks can be shared (Davis 2009). Hall and Weaver (2001) showed that the introduction of collaboration, communication and congruence improved the quality of care provided. Whatever the goals of the team or group they must be defined so everyone is aiming for the same target ( Edwards 2008). Within the tasks completed in the IPL modules, the strong emphasis on communication appeared to be the single most important factor.
As Benner (et al. 1996) theorised, for the development of expert clinical reasoning thought and skill acquisition are essential. So working alongside other professions could be seen as advantageous for the pooling of resources and expertise, aiding in the decision making process. An example of this is when an elderly lady who was clearly upset after undergoing a multitude of investigations. My mentor explained the reasons behind them in a factual empathetic way, alleviating some...