Nurse Leaders Create Collaborative Teams for Improved Patient Outcomes

The role of nurses today is no longer just about seeing that patients are comfortable and receiving the best medical attention for a swift recovery. There is so much scope for nursing professionals that a career in nursing can mean different things to different people, with each option offering job satisfaction and rewards. Nurses, nurse practitioners, nurse administrators, and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) graduates apply their professional knowledge and skills in many ways for the good of organizations and ultimately, patients. 

Nursing involves ongoing study and learning. Registered nurses (RNs) begin learning on the job, gaining experience as they care for patients in clinical or nursing home environments. Most nurses study further to achieve a Master’s in Nursing Practice (MSc), specializing in a field that holds their interest. Nurse practitioners can practice individually or take care of communities, advocate for change and make policy decisions, get involved in research, or find employment in their specialized field of practice. By taking on additional responsibilities in their chosen area of expertise, nurse practitioners relieve the pressure experienced by overworked medical professionals as they strive to cope amidst the current shortage of qualified practitioners.

A career as a nurse will take individuals from strength to strength, as they develop nursing skills and accumulate experience over the years, first as a RN and then, following some additional study and hard work, in the prestigious role of nurse practitioner. Members of the esteemed nursing profession demonstrate a passion for helping others and an ability to comfort and heal patients in need.

For some, it may be time to consider moving into one of the nursing leadership roles where they can make a positive contribution to the lives of patients and colleagues. It is possible to gain knowledge of leadership roles during further education courses, such as at Spring Arbor University. SAU will teach its students all they need to know about leadership roles, and how to be an effective leader themselves. The skills may be learnt through experience with other classmates, as well as by studying common leadership strategies.

Through their training, nurse leaders display excellent management and people skills, leading teams of nurses and healthcare practitioners towards excellence in patient care. With a shortage of skilled medical professionals, nurse leaders show initiative and strength as they engage their critical thinking and analysis skills to take pressure off primary care physicians and specialists. 

Nurse leaders get involved in the daily running of medical institutions and advocate for policy and practical changes within their organizations or in broader medical environments. They can initiate research in their workplace and implement evidence-based practices based on their findings. They improve the quality of healthcare and ensure that the systems used by their organization are running smoothly, advocating for system enhancements where necessary.

DNPs and the creation of collaborative teams

A collaborative team is an assortment of people with various medical and therapeutic qualifications working together to formulate a comprehensive plan of treatment for individual patients. 

For example, a patient may have been hospitalized for 10 days with a medical problem. During that time, they may have been bedridden and tube-fed. The patient needs assistance with mobility and with swallowing properly again. At the minimum, a team consisting of a medical practitioner and a physiotherapist will be put together to work on the patient’s medical recovery, helping them to swallow and getting them fully mobile again. In addition, a dietician may be involved to devise a proper eating plan for a quicker recovery. If the patient has existing chronic ailments, the specialist in that field of healthcare may be called upon for a consultation too. They will ensure that the chronic medication is compatible with the new medication being administered and that the condition has not deteriorated due to hospitalization. 

The team is coordinated by a skilled nurse who oversees the process, coordinating time with specialist physicians, therapists, the patient, and their family members. With the recent moves towards patient-centric care, it is the norm to include patients and their families in the decision-making process around healthcare options.

As part of their management and leadership roles, DNPs have access to various medical professionals they can call on when specialized treatment is required. The DNP will have a good idea of the patient’s needs and how a team of medical professionals should fit together to provide the maximum benefit of treatment for the patient. The DNP will then mobilize the team or put a nurse practitioner in charge of coordination, scheduling the consultations, and ensuring successful collaboration between team members. 

Once the diagnosis has been made, the coordinating nurse can furnish the patient and family members with details of specialists they may need to contact and will explain the illness or condition of the patient, providing them with as much information as possible.

A point of contact

Having a point of access to the nurse who is coordinating the treatment plan gives the family members a sense of security as they can ask for and receive consistent feedback on the patient’s wellbeing. It also helps to ease the pressure that family members may otherwise place on individual team members, allowing them to get on with their work.

Coordination of the team

DNP leaders make sure that the coordination of multidisciplinary teams of medical professionals takes place efficiently. Schedules are sent out to the various team members, detailing the times they will be spending with the patient, the nature of their visits, and the interventions applied. This information is made available to all team members responsible for the treatment. 

At any time during the patient’s treatment, each team member can see the patient’s health status and what interventions are being made regarding therapy and medication. Team members can have online meetings to discuss the patient’s progress and make decisions regarding further interventions. Having up-to-date access to this information saves an enormous amount of time for various team members. 

Teamwork between multidisciplinary professionals ensures efficient use of resources and facilitates a holistic approach to medical care with vastly improved patient outcomes. By spreading the responsibility across a team of professionals, the workload on individual doctors is eased. The DNP and nurse coordinator can absorb much of the pressure that would normally be felt by the individual medical practitioners. Less pressure on the medical practitioners means a reduction in risk to the patient. Time-saving benefits include digital consultations and conversations that eliminate the need for physicians to meet when discussing their patients.

In addition, a good relationship between nurses, patients, and family will ensure proper education and adherence to medication once the patient is discharged, lessening the possibility of readmission.

The importance of systems in healthcare environments

As computer systems in clinical environments become more sophisticated, so does the storage of medical data. Patient information is kept and updated in a central database, accessible online through a network of systems in use by various institutions. The ease of access to patient information speeds up diagnoses based on the patient’s medical history and current treatment, provided the information has been accurately captured.

DNP nurses ensure adequate system access for their teams and that information regarding current treatment is accurately and quickly captured on the relevant systems. This enables details to be shared regarding the patient’s treatment with the various members of the multidisciplinary teams treating them.  

The overall benefits of efficient systems are improved access to health interventions for patients, efficient use of health resources, reduced waste of time and resources, and increased job satisfaction among healthcare professionals. 

When DNP graduates take charge of a collaborative team, they also ensure that the policies in place serve as adequate guides for their respective teams. Evidence-based practices are researched and implemented, ensuring that team members are aware of best practices and adhere to them.

In addition, the DNP provides a scope of practice for each professional, ensuring that there is no overlap in duties and thus saving time. Collaborative teams should complement one another. If there is an overlap in responsibilities, they should discuss and agree on the boundaries as part of their preliminary investigation into the case.

The DNP nurse constantly monitors the input of the team and the patient outcomes to keep the information current. The DNP nurse oversees team member access to information on the system and ensures the general privacy of patient information.

Management of a schedule for patient care also means efficient scheduling of the various facilities, such as operating theaters, X-ray facilities, and other equipment, ensuring there are no backlogs or queues waiting to use potentially life-saving equipment.

Above all, mutual respect and good communication are key to the success of the collaboration, as members discuss solutions and actively listen to each other’s views and suggestions.

Leadership and teamwork

A successful nurse leader knows the value of a good team when there is work to be done. From the initial assessment of eligible members to the creation of the team, and finally, motivating and encouraging them to perform. This is all part of a day’s work in a busy clinical setting. The rewards are the harmonious flow of an efficient team and the improvement of patient outcomes.

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