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July 2012, Volume 42 Number 7 , p 50 - 53


  • Melissa A. Schneider DNP, RN-BC, ONC


TODAY'S HEALTHCARE environment is complex and fast-paced, with high-acuity patients and a shorter length of stay. This has contributed to additional stress in the work environment due to increased workloads. These changes have challenged both nurses and physicians to do more with less while continuing to improve patient outcomes.1This article discusses the many benefits of improved nurse-physician collaboration and offers strategies you can use to improve teamwork in your facility.Nurses and physicians are the largest segment of healthcare providers; collaborative practice between them is important to ensure effective delivery of care based on evidence and best practices. Collaboration has been promoted as a way to improve care and patient outcomes.2 Studies have demonstrated that if nurse-physician collaboration is effective, it can increase quality of care, improve communication and coordination of care, decrease patient morbidity and mortality, increase patient satisfaction, and increase job satisfaction and retention.3 Partnerships between nurses and physicians are a key component to improving positive patient outcomes.4The first step to encourage better nurse-physician collaboration is to strengthen relationships between the two professions. In the past, relationships between nurses and physicians have often been problematic and a barrier to collaboration.2 In the 1960s, for example, nurse-physician relationships were unequal and hierarchical, with physicians viewed as superiors and nurses as subordinates.5 Nurses needed to make recommendations in a way that made their suggestions appear to be initiated by the physicians.6With the shift to academic nursing education, however, nursing students were taught that nurses are professionals and that their relationship with physicians is collegial, not subservient. Unfortunately, the attitudes of some physicians have been slower to change and some still view carrying out their orders as the nurses' main role.6Evidence

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