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The Interprofessional Care Gap: Perceptions vs. Reality in Nurses Role on the Interprofessional Care

Drew Murray, Strategic Operations Manager

As we progress in a new era of reform, we need to continue expanding the capacity of our health care teams in order to best serve patients.

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The 2013 Survey of Michigan Nurses included a question on the role of interprofessional patient care teams. Team-based care is going to be an essential part of health care’s effort to reduce costs and improve quality.

Do Michigan’s nurses participate in team-based care? According to the survey 68% of RN’s report being part of an interprofessional care team and about half (55%) of LPNs report participating on interprofessional teams.

When asked about participating in seven of the Institute of Medicine’s core components of team-based practice, only 14% of RNs and 6% of LPNs reported participating in all core activities of an interprofessional care team.

(For this report, core activities are defined as discussion of team members’ roles and responsibilities, clinical huddles with patient care team, patient rounds with other patient care team members, team meetings patients and their families, development of shared treatment goals, virtual communications through an electronic health record, email, or text message, and evaluation of team processes and outcomes.)

What does this mean? Are nurses – and other health care providers – in Michigan beginning to develop team-based skills or just saying that they are? Can momentum around team-based care be sustained?

Survey questions for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses sheds some light on this topic. Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs) report much higher levels of team participation. Almost three-quarters, 74%, of Nurse Practitioners report participating on an interprofessional team.

More importantly, 69% of APRNs report participating in all core activities of an interprofessional care team.

What do these findings mean for nursing? Does this mean, in some settings, nurses can be doing more to facilitate teamwork to advance patient care? Or do these findings suggest other professionals need to be more aware of nursing’s role on the care team?

The answer is probably both.

Nurse educators and leaders need to continue stressing the importance of team-based interprofessional care for LPNs, RNs, and APRNs. Both the MSN and DNP education for advance practice nursing prepares individuals to be active leaders for nursing in health care teams. Continued work to support academic progression among nurses will be essential to building more teams in the future.

More importantly perhaps, is the need to expand the use and improve the quality of health care teams through more education, in-depth pilot programs, and on-going efforts to share best practices.

Join Michigan’s interprofessional movement by visiting the Education to Practice program at and consider signing up for the Tool Kit or putting yourself on the map.



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