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Is interdisciplinary the new multidisciplinary?

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29 November, 2012

It was when I was editing one of this week’s articles on stroke that I was struck by the reference to interdisciplinary working and how it was benefiting patients.   

When discussing early mobilisation and positioning in stroke the authors identify how the patients need 24 hours care, particularly in certain aspects of care to make the best recovery.

They point out that if nurses learn safe and correct ways to move and handle individual patients, it means the patients are not waiting for the physiotherapist to move them.

The skills would come from training but also from working with the

with the unit-based physiotherapist. This is where interdisciplinary skills come in so that the different professions are working together rather than side by side.

Nurses are with patients 24/7 so the benefit to the patient is huge meaning that their mobilisation can continue at weekends and out of hours. The patients’s outcomes will be better and also their engagement with the project of recovery will not be frustrated, for example  by them waiting  for the physiotherapist.

In recent years there has been a lot of discussion about the changing role of the nurse, and the blurring of boundaries between medicine and nursing. Yet patients also benefit significantly from interprofessional learning and sharing skills with other members of the healthcare team.

In many universities interprofessional learning is common practice with OT, medical, nursing and physiotherapy students learning together and sharing knowledge and skills. But this should not be confined to under graduate programmes. We need to move to develop true interprofessional practice to ensure holistic care for all patients

Upskilling nurses with crossover skills from the other disciplines will be good for the patients and for the profession. It’s not a case of doing someone else job as, for example in moving and handling patients, it is part of nurses’ job. It’s a case of refining and developing those skills in partnership with other professions to benefit patients.

Multidsciplinary was the new buzz word about 20 or more years ago. Perhaps it’s time to move things onto interdisciplinary.

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