Interprofessional Practice Essay Prompts

The Dimensions of Inter-Professional Practice

rodrigo | November 25, 2016

WritePass - Essay Writing - Dissertation Topics [TOC]


The essay examines a situation encountered by the student during her placement on a hospital ward: the regular ward meetings to discuss patient care and progress. The essay reflects upon the experience using the reflective cycle model proposed by Gibbs.  It also draws upon SWOT analysis and the PDSA cycle model for nursing practice. While rooted in the student’s experience, the essay also looks at relevant theoretical concepts including those of multidisciplinary teamwork and patient-centred healthcare.

1. Introduction

This essay aims to consider a situation I have encountered during my placement, using principles of reflective practice to outline an appropriate change to established procedure which, I feel, will benefit service users and staff.    I want to discuss ward reviews, and show how these can be improved by extending the range of people who attend these reviews.

I want to use principles of reflective practice and evidence-based practice to examine this area. The essay will use Gibbs reflective cycle as a structure within which to understand a situation I encountered, and plan for change. The essay will also look at some relevant theory, including notions of interprofessional team work, change theory and team dynamics.   The current situation will be discussed in terms of these. I will also draw upon the PDSA cycle model for nursing practice (NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement 2012 [online]), which provides a way to structure and implement change. I will also  use a tool widely used in business called ‘SWOT’ analysis, which helps in change planning by formalising the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in a given situation, and which is also useful for healthcare (Marquis and Huston 2009).  Gibbs (1988) model of reflective practice will also be influential.  The essay will be structured according to this 6 stage cycle, from description of event through evaluation and analysis to action and further reflection. While there are several different models of using reflectivity in practice including Bortons’ (1970), Kolb’s (1984) and Johns’ (1995), I use Gibbs model as it seems to best express the dynamic process of learning and change for me.   These tools will be used to demonstrate the things I feel are inadequate with the present situation whereby a limited number of healthcare professionals attend ward reviews, and suggest a change whereby key workers also attend, offering a deeper perspective on patient needs.

The nomination form, which assesses my placement, is included in the Appendix.

2. The Situation: Description

The situation in question occurred when I was on placement.  The hospital at which I was working, like others, carried out regular ward reviews. In these, the patient was discussed. A number of key staff involved in patient care were involved, and the aim was to review the patients care, treatment and prognosis. At the hospital where I carried out my placement, the members of staff who were involved were the consultant, the occupational therapist and the review nurse, sometimes also a student attended.  The patient did not attend this meeting. I attended a number of these reviews. In general, all members of the team who attended were respected and respectful, and took care to listen to what each person had to say.     One person led the meeting, making sure all were included and also ensuring that discussion did not go on for too long. Realistic goals and a date for the next meeting were set at the end, and the items discussed were formalised in writing.

3. The Situation: My Feelings

I had two sets of feelings. On the one hand, I felt pleased  that everyone who attended the meetings seemed to have the best interests of the patient at heart. Where there were disputes it was regarding what would work best for the patient. Also, I was pleased with how professionally staff members conducted themselves, I seldom witnessed rudeness or ‘shortness’ when one person spoke to another. People took turns and really seemed to listen. In part, I felt, this was due to the way the meetings were led, which was very sensitive. However, on the other hand, I felt quite annoyed and disappointed that not all staff who were involved in patient care were included in the meetings.  I felt that a whole side of the patient’s experience was being missed out.  The staff who attended seemed to understand the patient’s condition only generally, from their records and discussing the situation, not through contact with the patient daily. The holistic side of patient care, understanding what the patient was feeling, seemed to have been missed out.

4. Evaluation

In terms of the ‘SWOT’ framework, widely used in business but also useful for understanding healthcare (Williamson et al 1996), I evaluated the experience as follows. As Gibb’s evaluation stage is concerned mainly with what is good and bad about the experience, I have omitted the ‘opportunities’ and ‘threats’ from this analysis, as they will be covered later.


Good communication between team members

Respectful awareness of other points of view

Developed clear goals and actions to follow


Patient seems to lack a ‘voice’

Those involved in caring regularly from patient are not included in the review

Those who know the patient well are not included in the review

Lack of holistic and person-centred care

5. Analysis

The following sections looked at what happened, how I experienced it and what sense I made of it within my own parameters. In order to make wider sense of the situation, I need to draw upon notions of interprofessional teamwork, user perspectives and team dynamics, all concepts central to the current health service.  Interprofessional teamwork, also known as multidisciplinary teamwork (MDT), has been part of healthcare policy in the UK since 1997 (Davis 2007). As an approach, it means professionals from a range of disciplines involved in patient care meeting to discuss and agree on care plans for patients (Hostad 2010).  There are a number of benefits, for example multidisciplinary teamwork seems to meet user needs better, and to deliver better outcomes.  However, there are also some drawbacks including the time needed for teams to work effectively, and difficulties with perceived status differences (Housley 2003).   For effective MDT, the ways in which team dynamics work has to be understood. There are many attempts to understand how people work together, both generally and in the healthcare context, for example Bale’s (1950) model.  Maslow’s model is also influential in healthcare. He suggested that all human’s need to be respected by others in order to feel valued, and have a need to feel part of a group, and want to have their social and emotional needs met within the work context (Borkowski 2009).

The notion of incorporating user perspectives is also very influential in the NHS currently, as ‘patient-centred healthcare’.  This was introduced in the late 90’s, and involves patients being involved as much as possible in decisions which are made about their care.  The relationship between healthcare professional and patient is no longer one in which the professional is at the top of a hospital hierarchy, but one of partnership in which mutual respect and communication exist (Chambers et al 2003)

Overall, I feel that both MDT and patient-centred healthcare could be improved here through including the key workers, or support workers of the named patient. The key worker acts as a co-ordinator on behalf of the patient, keeping the patient informed of what is going on and co-ordinating care and ensuring continuity of treatment (NICE 2004). Support workers or healthcare assistants act in a supporting role to other professionals, and are very ‘hands-on’ in well-being and looking after the patient.   Both these professionals have much closer contact with the patient and as such have important insights into the patient’s situation. Multidisciplinary  teamwork emphasises including all viewpoints relevant to the situation, and I feel that these workers would add valuable insights to enhance the teamwork.  In addition, how can patient care be really holistic and patient-centred if the meetings do not include those people who get to know patients as individuals, understanding their feelings, hopes and fears?  Including support and key workers would allow those people who are not involved in daily care to really understand how the patient is feeling.   In addition, if support and key workers were present at the meeting, it would be much easier and quicker to feedback to the patient what is going on with their care. As it stands, patients hear second hand.

6. Conclusion

Gibbs suggests reflecting upon what else I could have done here. Given that I was on placement, I feel that the opportunities for changing the situation are practically limited. At the time, I felt it was not appropriate for me to speak up and question the accepted meeting structure. Later, however, I did question whether I should have mentioned this to my supervisor on the ward.  I felt that the emphasis on MDT meant that I would be heard sympathetically, even though I had very little experience.

If I was able, I would change the meeting structure to ensure that either a support worker or a key worker was included as a matter of principle. I feel that the existing meeting structure is very good, and that if it was part of protocol that staff closely involved in the patient’s care were included, they would be welcomed into the meetings, their opinions heard and the patient’s viewpoint better understood.  This would, I feel, ensure that the care delivered to the patient was more truly patient-centred and holistic, as it would take into account not only quantitative data about their condition but also their feelings and emotions. In addition, I feel wider meetings would be more reflective of multi-dimensional teamworking, as they currently don’t include all staff perspectives.

It also seems that including key and support workers is more ethical.  All hospitals have detailed code of conducts which set out the ways in which they expect their staff to behave, and the care of the patient is generally the first priority in these. Working as a team is also one of the central tenets of most ethical codes in UK hospitals (Melia 2004).

7. Action Plan

Here I draw upon the PDSA model to suggest a way to structure the change:


  • Discuss and agree new format for meetings (including key worker or support worker)
  • Inform key / support worker and other staff of new meeting format


  • Carry out a series of 4 pilot meetings over agreed time period
  • Agree and implement mechanisms for review of new meeting format (gather data from key/support workers, staff already included, and patients)


  • Analyse data collected, assess changes against clearly defined criteria (for example, do patients feel more informed, happier; did key/support workers feel included; did other staff value new structure)
  • What worked well? What worked less well?


  • Plan new meetings on basis of what was learnt during study phase. If including key/support workers beneficial, change meeting structure so that they are now part of meetings. Ensure that repercussions of this are understood, for example allowing them extra time for preparing for meetings.


Borton, T (1970) Reach, Teach and Touch,  Mc Graw Hill, London.

Gibbs, G (1988) Learning by Doing: A Guide to Teaching and Learning Methods,  Further Educational Unit, Oxford Polytechnic, Oxford.

Johns C (1995) Framing learning through reflection within Carper’s fundamental ways of knowing in nursingJournal of Advanced Nursing, 22, 226-234

Kolb, D A (1984) Experiential Learning experience as a source of learning and development, Prentice Hall, New Jersey

Marquis, B L and Huston, C J (2009) Leadership roles and management functions in nursing: theory and application (6th edn), Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Melia, K M (2004) Health care ethics: lessons from intensive care, SAGE, Thousand Oaks, CA

NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement (2012) ‘Plan, Do, Study, Act (PDSA)’, [online] (cited 14th February 2012), available from

NICE (2004) ‘Improving Outcomes Guidance for Supportive and Palliative Care’, National Institute of Clinical Excellence 2004, London.

Williamson, S, Stevens, R E, Loudon, D L (1996) Fundamentals of strategic planning for healthcare organizations, Routledge, UK




In writing the 1500 word reflective commentary focussed on service improvement you should consider/address the following:

  • The context and setting for your placement.
  • Your reflective commentary should focus either on a service improvement initiative that you have identified with your mentor, or on a service improvement that has previously been implemented in your practice area. You should examine this initiative in terms of the inter-professional team and identify actual or potential ways that inter-professional working can facilitate its implementation. You should also discuss potential barriers to implementation.
  • You MUST include the Service Improvement Activity notification form with your assignment including a discussion of future plans in terms of the service improvement initiative.
  • An evidence based model of reflection or reflective writing should be used. You should offer a rationale to support what you have used (fixed resource sessions on the use and application of reflective models and writing are included in the delivery of this module). You should also demonstrate the use of the PDSA cycle in terms of service improvement. For assessment purposes you are not expected to move beyond the planning stage of the PDSA cycle.
  • As this assignment is a reflective commentary your reflection must be supported and referenced by using appropriate sources (as per learning outcomes). You may wish to use a structured reflective model e.g. Gibbs’, Rolfe et al or John’s; or you may wish to write in a reflective style, encompassing reflection on action e.g. Schon or Borton. This is your choice but either way you must show evidence you have done this.
  • A reflective commentary requires that you use subheadings. The structure of this piece of work can be informed by using either learning outcomes or the stages of a reflective model to do so.
  • If you say you are going to use a model of reflection, then you must demonstrate clearly that you have done so.
  • Which ever process you use must be briefly explained and rationalised within your introduction.
  • Ensure that you have supported your assignment with appropriate, contemporary and relevant sources, including published literature, professional standards key texts and policy.
  • You need to apply theory to practice and use paraphrasing to demonstrate understanding of the sources you have used.
  • Make sure you address the relevant learning outcomes for this piece of work (l,2,5) in this commentary:
    • Learning outcome one requires you to analyse the unique role of the nurse within the inter-professional team and also to apply this to your experience in your placement area. For example, do nurses in your placement area require any additional skills or knowledge to work with the client/patient group?
    • Learning outcome two requires you to evaluate the contribution of all members of the inter-professional team in providing holistic care to clients/patients. For example, which guidelines and policies inform holistic care in your placement area and how did this impact on practice in your area? How did the team work together? What qualities did you note in the team and how did this impact on care delivery?
    • Learning outcome five asks you to reflect on learning and transfer newly gained knowledge. For example, what did you learn and how will what you learned in your placement help to prepare you to be a registered nurse?


Tags: examines a situation encountered by the student during her placement, hospital ward: the regular ward meetings to discuss patient care and progress., The Dimensions of Inter-Professional Practice

Category: Essay & Dissertation Samples, Health

For the purpose of this essay, the importance of interprofessional working (IPW) in effective patient care will be discussed, along with the challenges and constraints. A patient case study will be used for example purposes; all names and places will be changed in line with Nursing Midwifery Council (NMC, 2008) guidelines. According to The British Medical Association (2005), interprofessional collaboration is loosely defined as professionals working together to improve the quality of patient care. The insurgence into creating a well-oiled professional work force is well documented throughout healthcare over the last decade. The Department of Health (DH, 2007) argues that the areas of interprofessional, interagency, inter-sectoral education and practice, need vast progression to improve interprofessional relations.

IPW has been supported in a global sense by the World Health Organisation (WHO, 2010). They have stated that the planning, policy making and relations between interprofessional teams need to integrate to improve patient care. A collaborative practice team is key to moving healthcare systems ‘from fragmentation to a position of strength’ (WHO, 2010). The DH (2007) issued a supplement; ‘Creating an Interprofessional Workforce’. This document reconfirms the need to have an integrated healthcare system with details of initiatives that have and will be implemented to support this. These strategies encompass involving the patient/family/carers/ in decisions and improving both leadership and education to improve patient care, satisfaction, safety and the health service in general.

Due to these reasons, interprofessional collaboration is important in the effectiveness of patient care (Hoffman et al, 2007). The level of patient care can be difficult to measure due to the methods being unquantifiable and difficult to assess (Martin, 2010). Patient care surveys are argued to be an efficient and vital way to measure and improve care, especially when results are publicly released; as quality enhancement activity increases (Fung, 2008). Meterko et al (2004) investigated the correlation between the teamwork culture in hospitals and reports from patient satisfaction surveys about their care. From this analysis, there was a significant and positive relation between the prominence of teamwork and patient satisfaction of their care; survey scores were higher when patients felt there was a MDT caring for them.

It is argued by Schramm (2006) that a high level of IPW reduces the amount of healthcare acquired infections (HCAIs) in a hospital setting. She states that if a culture develops between nursing and domestic staff on the exact methods to clean efficiently, patient care would vastly improve due to the reduction in risk for infection. This simple example supports the idea of sharing work and individual roles contributing to a team, which in turn improves healthcare (Reeves, 2010). The development of relationships between professions will bring about respect for supplementary disciplines, therefore improving the care of the patient.

Effective multidisciplinary working would also mean that the patient receives the most appropriate method of care for their condition with all possible options being considered (Flessig, 2006). Patients should be reassured that the team caring for them is providing them with the widest range of options (Carter, 2003). In the case of cancer care, The Cancer Plan (2000) stated that multidisciplinary care causes a reduction in delays for treatments and provides consistent information for patients. There is even evidence that a well-oiled multidisciplinary team (MDT) can increase rates of survival (Junor, 1994 as cited in Ruhstaller, 2006) and reduce length of stay in hospital. Some evidence suggests twice daily multidisciplinary ward rounds have doubled discharges and halved lengths of stay (Ahmad, 2011).

Alternatively, Caldwell (2003) states that there are four main challenges and constraints associated with IPW. These are categorised as; unequal power, different ideologies (or different goals), communication and role overlap and confusion.

Unequal power in healthcare can cause problems between the staff, as the more established medical professions tend to have a greater supremacy (Baker et al, 2011). This research showed that practitioners such as doctors described
themselves as working alone and as ‘leaders’, whereas nurses, therapists and other practitioners focussed more on holistic care and being a ‘team player’. Physicians also believed themselves to be at the top of the hierarchy due to length and cost of training, salary and the fact that they are ultimately liable for decisions made. Lewis (2001) identified that nursing staff received a negative reaction from other healthcare professionals when suggestions were made for nurses to lead cases due to upsetting the balance of power. It has also been suggested that nurses will submit to medical domination in day-to-day situations (Hewitt, 2002).

Gender differences within hospital settings could also have an impact on power relations. Only 28% of hospital doctors are female (Ozbilgin et al, 2011) whereas nursing is female dominated at 89% (NMC, 2008). This points to the upper sector of the hierarchy being dominated by men. Heever (2011) found that 24 % of female medical students felt they were not taken seriously by their male peers, leaving an unbalanced working environment. Hannson (2009) disagrees stating that there is no correlation concerning gender when general practitioners and district nurses are working together.

The fundamental ideological differences that occur between healthcare professionals can cause problems in interprofessional collaboration (Caldwell, 2003). Due to each profession having struggled to gain its own identity, each area now has its own set of ideologies related to common experiences, skills, norms and values (Hall, 2005). This can make it difficult to work as a multidisciplinary team as the idea of a goal is dissimilar. The issue of communication is an important one due to the effects that reverberate into patient care. In 2003, the Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organisations (JCAHO) stated that communication failures contribute to 60% of incidental events (Doran, 2005).

Leonard et al (2004) believe communication issues could be drastically reduced by creating a ‘common mental model’, thus meaning all members of staff are using the same clinical language and working towards the same goal. Research carried out by Westli (2010) displayed that teams performing more efficiently showed ‘more effective information exchange and communication’. Empirical evidence found in this study highlighted that advanced levels of teamwork skills increased levels of performance, therefore increasing patient care.

Role overlap and confusion is another aspect that may reduce effective interprofessional collaboration. The DH (2000) issued a supplement that described professionals having a lack of clarity over what their role was in a healthcare setting. This could possibly lead to a breakdown in communication and have a direct negative impact on the patient. Caldwell (2003) argues that the issue of role overlap is rarely acknowledged and so is not addressed. She also argues that the curriculum in undergraduate courses should be more established when considering interprofessional relations to improve this.

The argument towards refining interprofessional collaboration by improving interprofessional education (IPE) is widely documented and supported (Rout, 2009). An article in the American Medical News (Trapp, 2011) questioned the amount of interprofessional education that is taking place in universities. It claims that doctors and nurses do not come into contact enough during training, contributing to the problem of professional relations between them and affecting patient care.

Many academics have supported the need for a clear leadership role to improve the effects of a MDT (Martin and Rogers 2004; Ross et al. 2005) and that leadership is at the pivotal centre of an efficient healthcare process. Leadership within a healthcare team can be challenging as the member in charge may change as the care of the patient changes (Reeves et al, 2010). However, it has been argued that there does not need to be one definitive leader in a situation, but that IPW can be exercised through more than one director. Yukl (2002) proposes that leadership is; ‘‘the process of influencing others to understand and agree about what needs to be done and how it can be done effectively, and the process of facilitating individual and collective efforts to accomplish the shared objectives’’.

With this thinking, even the leadership roles involved should become interprofessional so that all decisions are discussed at all levels of care. Collective leadership is becoming an accepted alternative in an interdisciplinary team. Sharing responsibility also helps to build leadership aptitude across the organisation (Huber, 2010). Tregunno (2009) showed that a nursing leader who provides patient care as part of their role increased patient safety. The emotional exhaustion of nurses along with job satisfaction has been found to be directly related to management and leadership decisions (Gunnarsdóttir, 2009). Conclusions from this study showed that maintaining strong relationships with nurses and their managers would increase patient care.

Case study – Mr Peter Dawson
Mr Dawson is an 85-year-old male who is deaf with hearing aids and has a history of hypertension; he is otherwise well. When admitted, his BMI was 23, which is within a healthy range and a Waterlow score of 7, which places him at a low risk of pressure ulcers. He lives with his wife, has three children and a supportive family. He was admitted onto the ward for an elective laryngectomy due to a squamous cell carcinoma of the larynx. A total laryngectomy consists of removal of the larynx including the hyoid bone and the upper rings of the trachea. The anterior wall of the pharynx is closed and the upper end of the trachea is brought out through the skin to create a stoma (Morris & Affifi, 2010) Mr Dawson was seen by an ear, nose and throat (ENT) consultant regarding this carcinoma, who explained the procedure that the patient could elect to have.

Otolaryngologists (commonly referred to as ENT surgeons) deal with the diagnosis, evaluation and management of diseases of head and neck and principally the ENT (Royal College of Surgeons, 2012). A Macmillan nurse then explained the procedure further to Mr Dawson and his family. A Macmillan nurse is a qualified nurse with five years’ experience including two years in palliative or cancer care (Macmillan Cancer Support, 2012). The training of a Macmillan nurse includes managing pain, along with other symptoms, and how to give psychological support. The nurse then liaised with a speech and language therapist (SALT) prior to the surgery, regarding the effects to the patients’ speech post operation. A speech and language therapist is a healthcare professional who deals with the management of speech, language and communication disorders and swallowing in children and adults (Royal College of SALT, 2012).

The case was then discussed in a multi-disciplinary team (MDT) meeting. This meeting is consultant led with input from a range of professions. The team worked together in this meeting to give Mr Dawson the best care through joint decision-making. The outcome was that Mr Dawson was to have a total laryngectomy and right neck dissection carried out by an ENT surgical team. The surgical team consisted of surgeons, anaesthetist and scrub nurses. Anaesthetists are trained doctors who have gone through extensive training in anaesthesia, intensive care medicine and pain management (Royal College of Anaesthetists, 2012); their role includes monitoring of the patient during the perioperative process using an anaesthetic monitoring chart.

In post-operative stages, SALT visited Mr Dawson for a feeding assessment regarding a nasogastric tube. He was also visited by a physiotherapist; whose job is to improve a broad range of physical problems associated with different systems of the body (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, 2012). The physiotherapist then collaborated with the pain team, ward doctors, nurses and Macmillan nurses via an MDT meeting and using the patients notes to assess Mr Dawson’s pain solutions and mobility problems. Mr Dawson was also seen by a dietitian; their role is the interpretation and communication of the science of nutrition to enable people to make informed and practical choices about food and lifestyle, in both health and disease (The British Dietetic Association, 2012). In Mr Dawson’s case this involved nutritional regime for his nasogastric tube.

Mr Dawson’s care was carefully considered in MDT meetings and through a consultant led ward round; all professionals had an input that was discussed with Mr Dawson before any decisions were made. His care appeared fluid and consistent, with his health and wellbeing staying as the primary influence for all conclusions as per DH guidelines.

In conclusion, interprofessional collaboration is essential in the improvement of quality of patient care. There are still many challenges and constraints surrounding aspects of IPW but the evidence strongly supports an insurgence into this method of operating. Studies show a decrease in length of stay and HAI’s whilst there is an increase in survival rates and patient satisfaction. This shows that patient care benefits from a well-oiled multidisciplinary team where all members are treated as equal and different professional opinions are taken into consideration. Communication and leadership are amongst the most important factors in improving the pathway of the patient as these aspects improve the overall coordination of the team. Collective leadership is a relatively new concept, which will hopefully further improve a patients experience and offer even more choices and options.

The patient case study shows the collective efforts of an interprofessional team and the impact this has on a patient. With the patient being informed and making decisions on their own treatment every step of the way, they become more comfortable and less anxious about the care they are receiving. Explanations from specialists during consultant led ward rounds and the results of MDT meetings mean that each patient is treated as an individual and the pathway of care is suited to them. IPW still has some way to go with the stigma and power struggle that can arise, but studies show that this problem appears to be very much in the minority.


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World Health Organisation (2010) Framework for Action on Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice, Health Professions Networks Nursing and Midwifery Human Resources for Health, pp10

Yukl, G. (2002). Leadership in organizations. USA: Prentice Hall, Inc.

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