Ask the expert: Building collaboration between nurses and medical staff

Nurse Leader Insider, September 26, 2011

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This week, Shelley Cohen, RN, MSN, CEN, discusses strategies for improving collaboration between staff nurses and medical staff.

Q: How can I facilitate collaboration between nursing and medical staff at my hospital?

A: Because improving collaboration is an ongoing process that will require leadership oversight and management, develop some working goals to help you manage your efforts in enhancing collaboration:

  1. Assess nursing and medical staff perceptions of the current status of collaboration.
  2. Ask the organization's leadership staff about their perceptions of the status of collaboration in the organization. Include mid-level managers in this assessment.
  3. Identify two successful collaborative efforts that have occurred on the past three years and review the following:
    • Why were they successful?
    • Is the effort still in progress?
    • Who or what was the motivating force for the success?
    • Were patient outcomes related? If so, how were they measured?
  4. Obtain input from nursing and medical staff on their perception of the top three patient care concerns that need collaborative attention.
  5. Compare these results with the responses from the leadership team.

After you have collected information:

  • Share responses to survey questions at the next management meeting
  • Develop a collaborative improvement team and have top management appoint people who submitted targeted comments and suggestions on their surveys
  • Involve staff responsible for compliance with The Joint Commission (formerly JCAHO) standards and risk management in your improvement processes
  • Include the concept of collaborative practice in your facility's orientation process

Editor's note: Do you have a question for our experts? E-mail your queries to Editor Rebecca Hendren at and see your name in print next week! In the meantime, head over to our Web site and view a growing collection of advice from our experts.

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