Nurse-Physician Collaboration is Critical

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By Debbie Tamilin, MSN, RN, NEA-BC

The presence of nurse/physician collaboration has never been more critical than it is today.  We want to assure patient safety and achieve the best possible patient outcomes and to do this requires a team effort.

To facilitate nurse/physician collaboration at Saint Vincent, a Medical Operations Cabinet (MOC) was established.  The MOC consists of dyad partners (a nurse and physician team) who identify opportunities that enhance both patient safety and the quality of care we provide to our patients at Saint Vincent, as well as improve nurse/physician collaboration. 

I have been very fortunate to work with William Betz, MD, as my dyad partner.  Dr. Betz, a champion for patient safety, is also a strong advocate for nurse/physician collaboration and teamwork.  

Our first collaborative project was to install patient white boards in all patient rooms.  These boards were specifically designed to keep the patient and family members completely informed during a hospital stay. 

Together, Dr. Betz and I solicited input from various organizations, nurses and physicians and researched best practice to design the boards.  We recognized that the design must allow all members of the team — including physicians, nurses, patients, and families — to utilize it. 

The board we designed allows patient and family members to write down questions and identifies goals with the health care team. We have seen steadily increasing use of the board as a means of communication and collaboration among the disciplines and patients. The white board is becoming a tool to improve physician/nurse communication and to involve patients and their families in care.  We believe when all parties are working together, the patient outcome will see immediate improvements.

As a dyad, Dr. Betz and I continue to discuss patient care concerns from both our perspectives and identify processes that impede delivery of patient centered care.  Dr. Betz addresses these identified concerns at the Saint Vincent Medical Executive Committee and I share them at the Saint Vincent Nursing Leadership meetings. Based on the feedback we receive from both groups, we will then be able to propose a solution to whatever the concern. 

I truly believe this partnership has demonstrated that, while physicians and nurses may each play a different “role” in delivering patient care, it is through respect for each other’s roles and willingness to collaborate that patients will truly receive safe care.

Debbie Tamilin is Vice President of Patient Care Operations for Saint Vincent Hospital.