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Why do we care so much about interprofessional teams? We care because we know that this is the best way to help people with complex health challenges become as healthy as possible. The purpose of InterProfessional health care teams is to help people/patients achieve optimal health status – to maximize the likelihood of health improvement for a person/patient. Health improvement can be defined as improved comfort and function, and reduced severity of illness. So how do we optimize the likelihood of health status improvement? We do this through collaborative teamwork among various health professionals and care providers. Throughout your learning related to interprofessional teams you will be learning the following critical skills. When you use a combination of these skills you will ensure that those committed to your care have the best chance of optimal health: o Understand objectives of care & services from the perspective of the patient/person o Communicate well & manage conflict o Synergize, integrate and collaborate with other team members o Provide best unique professional services o Lead collaborative processes & take initiative o Commit to patient/person-centred care & services o Work effectively using distance technologies Which profession will be on the team and for how long is determined by the specific characteristics of care and the services needed. For some persons with health challenges there is a formal process in place to help a person/patient pull together the team that will support his/her health status improvement. An example is a person with cancer in Nova Scotia: a “Navigator” helps the person with cancer find his/her way through the range of care and services needed. In most cases, the person with the health challenge is left to form and manage his/her own team. Forming one’s own team as a patient can be quite challenging. One is already weaker and less able to function (otherwise one would not be in need of help from the health care system) and usually has limited knowledge of the health care system and how it works. You have one responsibility as a health professional involved with a person/patient: to determine if a team is needed for the particular patient; if such a team is already in place; and if you can either contribute to that team collaboratively or provide leadership in bringing a team together for your patient’s needs. Team coordination and communication is a task that requires skills, time and commitment from you and your superiors. An important question here is : who is or should be the team “leader”? Is it the health professional who coordinates and facilitates the work of a formal team, or is it the health professional who first recognizes and pulls
© Tri-IPAAC Interprofessional Learning in the Faculties of Dentistry, Health Professions, & Medicine Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia www.dal.ca/ipl October 2008
The team leadership function may be shared among a number of professionals involved with a particular patient. who is the team “boss”. o To plan effectivelyi It’s good to know exactly what you are responsible for accomplishing.together the needed team? Further. Halifax. In industry. A major challenge to effective. as well as the broader indicators for success (measures like feeling better. interprofessional work is that communication must often be done asynchronously – you can’t always have the luxury of regular team meetings with all team members in the same room at the same time. Which leads to another key point… The relationships for a health professional working on one or more interprofessional teams include relationships with o the patient or person having a health challenge – the number 1 “boss” o the patient’s family or advocates who sometimes must take full accountability o the other members of the team (who also have accountability to more than one boss or leader) o the health professional’s own manager in the employing organizational hierarchy o the health professional’s professional group or association The ability to manage all these relationships in behalf of the patient/person is critical. being able to do things). the processes to work through for effective results.dal. as we have already noted. etc). and who will ask you to account for that. If the patient has complex healthcare needs. accountability in interprofessional healthcare teams is not always clear. the one who decides what the final objectives will be? The team “boss” should be the person with a health challenge who requires care and services – the patient. that is.g. However. collaborative.ca/ipl October 2008 . The patient is the one who defines the overall objectives for care and services. & Medicine Dalhousie University. the challenges that will be faced. the more specific measures for success (e. the team leader (health professional) knows how the health care system works. Nova Scotia www. getting better will require more than one health professional’s expertise. so the patient or the patient’s family and advocates must gather a team to support him/her to gain optimal health. Health Professions. Your key skills here are (a) commitment to the objectives of the patient/person and (b) managing relationships on the team through communication and collaborative actions. changes in lab test values. This is one way in which patient & family centred care is put into practice. organization development experts are finding several factors that are of critical importance to successful team work: o To have a clear objective o To have clear accountability. In health care. and the best professionals and care providers to have involved. degrees of mobility. The healthcare team needed for someone with a chronic disease or © Tri-IPAAC Interprofessional Learning in the Faculties of Dentistry. Interprofessional healthcare teams must also learn to use information technology tools and processes to support their work.
” (Sheard & Kakabese.dal. From loose groups to effective teams: The nine key factors of the team landscape. Journal of Management Development. & Medicine Dalhousie University. Thus. One pair of management experts state that “An effective team is one in which development of a supportive social structure has occurred. 2002. 2002)ii This can be challenging when you don’t actually see each other. AP. Effective interprofessional team members understand that there are significant differences in values. customs and behaviors. and shared professional information sources such as the electronic health record. (Hall. Halifax. Issue 2. Joiner Associates Inc. PR. and processes of care. These are important and lead to the specialized unique contributions that your health profession provides.other complex condition may not be able ever to meet together in one place at the same time. Skills in working with these tools in an interprofessional collaborative team will support the patient/person to improved health status. 2005 May. Scholtes. including profession-specific values. 1993. collaboration and communication must take place via tools such as telephone. The Team Handbook: How to use teams to improve quality. AG Kakabadse. 19: Supplement 1: 188-96 © Tri-IPAAC Interprofessional Learning in the Faculties of Dentistry. May you have every success in building the skills and attitudes needed to function effectively for the benefit of improved health for the people who most need it. pp 133-151 iii ii i Hall.. Sheard. 2005)iii This presents many interesting challenges to working in interprofessional healthcare teams as you: o sort out the meaning of words and phrases across different professional cultures. Journal of Interprofessional Care (J INTERPROF CARE). and creates its own challenges at the same time. Nova Scotia www. attitudes. Interprofessional teamwork: professional cultures as barriers. You will have your own way of doing problem-solving and use a unique language that reflects your professional culture. For us to have a sense of being part of a team means not only working together but building a supportive social structure together – a sense that the members of the team care about each other and are willing to be mutually supportive. electronic transmitters of messages such as email or secure message centres. Volume 21. and problem-solving processes to the best advantage of the patient/person and the team.ca/ipl October 2008 . Working in interprofessional healthcare teams helps us to manage that complexity. beliefs. with each individual adapting behavior to optimize personal contribution to the team. Health Professions. Healthcare is the most complex industry in the world. In your professional training each of you will be picking up the culture of your particular health profession. along with the patient/person’s understanding of these words and phrases o work out together the various ways of understanding the world (what Hall calls “cognitive maps”). P. Madison WI. language.