Defining Roles and Responsibilities in the Interprofessional Team

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Defining Roles and Responsibilities in the Interprofessional Team

Abstract
According to Barnsteiner (2007), “The work of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and others has clearly demonstrated that when healthcare professionals understand each others’ roles and are able to communicate and work together effectively, patients are more likely to receive safe, quality care” (p. 144). There are many good practices to consider when evaluating the roles and responsibilities of an interprofessional team member. This paper will look at four interdependent strategies; team member roles must be clearly defined and articulated, there must be an understanding and respect for each other’s roles, there must be an appreciation of each other’s scope of practice, and a willingness to learn about and how other members’ roles compliment your own. Although these strategies can be used for all types of interprofessional teams their use in the healthcare setting will be highlighted.

Interprofessional team work allows various professionals to learn from one another, share skills and knowledge, and develop an appreciation for each other’s expertise in a collaborative environment. In healthcare this can improve communication, improve quality of care and ultimately result in a more effective and efficient delivery of patient care. Nandiwada (2010) quoted Dr. Kyu Rhee, Health and Human Resources - Chief Public Health Officer A health care team is like a sports team, except for instead of points we are dealing with people’s lives. Like any great team, it is essential to know the roles and responsibilities of each of the players and to have trust in one another. It is vital to have that team learn together, and practice together so that when the game truly matters they can each play their best with trust and understanding leading to more positive outcomes. (p. 26) The focus of this paper will be to examine the roles and responsibilities of interprofessional team roles using four strategies; clearly defined and articulated roles, understanding and respecting individual roles, appreciation for scope of practice, and a willingness to learn about and how other members’ roles compliment your own. This paper will show evidence these are four good practices when participating in an interprofessional team. Examples will be provided for use of these strategies within an interprofessional healthcare environment. Headrick (1998) study indicated the following:

Improved health outcomes usually lie outside the scope or control of any single practitioner. Real improvements are likely to occur if the range of professionals responsible for providing a particular service are brought together to share their different knowledge and experiences, agree what improvements they would like to see, test these in practice, and jointly learn from their results. (p. 772) Upon formation of an interprofessional team, clearly defined roles and responsibilities need to be established. These roles and their responsibilities must be understood by all team members. Teams are generally made up of a team leader &/or facilitator, recorder, timer (optional) and individual team members. The team leader will be the person with an in depth knowledge of the teams focus and/or goal. Some team leaders choose to assign a group member to facilitate or moderate the meeting process, others may choose to lead the meetings themselves. As the team leader it is their role to coach, provide constructive feedback, value the groups’ ideas and decisions yet not withdraw when conflict arises. Banutu-Gomez (2011) stated, “The most important of all is having a leader who does not separate him or herself from the group but participates and influence people to be great followers by empowering them every chance he or she gets” (p. 57). The recorders responsibility is to take and keep accurate meeting notes. Some groups may want to assign a timekeeper,...
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