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Is interdisciplinary the new multidisciplinary?

Posted by:

26 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’ 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 on to interdisciplinary.

Readers' comments (13)

  • wasn't this the title of a Carpenters song?

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  • tinkerbell

    Anonymous | 26-Nov-2012 11:59 am

    Are you referring to the carpenters song 'calling occupants of interplanetary craft'.

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  • tinkerbell, yes I think it may have been something like that, I remember the 'inter' bit.

    I feel a song coming on.

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  • Kathryn Godfrey

    I was going to call it 'Is interdisciplinary the new black?' Glad I didn't now -- enjoying the comments too much

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  • glad we are cheering things up a bit, what is the real difference between inter and multi or is it just another buzz word that we use so much? I've always been shown how to move patients by lifting and handling nurses, physio's etc.

    would you like us to write some songs about this and do you know what happened to the last songs we wrote?

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  • The semantics again...It's all alien to me!
    Seriously though, my experience of multidisciplinary working when I needed to see the benefit most was when I was a patient at a large and very well known London hospital. My experience was that instead of enhancing my care, it hindered it significantly (e.g. waiting for meetings to take place, one team of doctors waiting for another team of doctors to make a decision instead of getting on and making a decision themselves). This article states that multidisciplinary working has been around for years- we need to get this right first before we start to dabble in "other-disciplinary" stuff. I can see how interdisciplinary working would help with patient care but my worry is that as usual it would ONLY be nurses that take on these new roles. Would the Doctors and Physios do some nursing roles if it would benefit patients? I don't think so... they would run a mile at the very thought of it.

    I'll get of my soap box now that the carpenters made for me

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  • tinkerbell

    perhaps it's a case of too many cooks spoil the broth with very little actually being done for the helpless patient whilst awaiting the outcome of some meeting, whilst everyone debates the ins and outs of a ducks arse.

    But on the upside whilst all this discussion/debate is going on hopefully the patient, let's not forget them, is having some down time and recuperating.

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  • tinkerbell

    Anyway in the meantime let's all sing along 'Calling occupants of interplanetary craft'- Carpenters

    In your mind you have capacities you know
    To telepath messages through the vast unknown Please close your eyes and concentrate
    With every thought you think
    Upon the recitation we're about to sing

    Calling occupants of interplanetary craft
    Calling occupants of interplanetary most extraordinary craft
    Calling occupants of interplanetary craft
    Calling occupants of interplanetary most extraordinary craft

    We've been observing your earth
    And we'd like to make a contact with you
    We are your friends

    Calling occupants of interplanetary craft
    Calling occupants of interplanetary ultra-emissaries

    We've been observing your earth
    And one night we'll make a contact with you
    We are your friends

    Calling occupants of interplanetary quite extraordinary craft
    And please come on peace, we beseech you
    Only a landing will teach them
    Our earth may never survive
    So do come, we beg you
    Please interstellar policeman Oh, won't you give us a sign
    Give us a sign that we've reached you

    With your mind you have ability to form
    And transmit thought energy far beyond the norm
    You close your eyes, you concentrate
    Together that's the way
    To send the message
    We declare world contact day

    Calling occupants of interplanetary craft
    Calling occupants of interplanetary most extraordinary craft
    Calling occupants of interplanetary craft
    Calling occupants of interplanetary most extraordinary craft
    We are your friends


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  • Don`t get too hooked up on the words folks.

    What we need is a little more "blue-sky thinking", "idea showers", "virtual teams" and "culture shaping".

    That`s what the modern NHS is all about !!!!!!!!

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  • tinkerbell

    Tipperary Tim | 28-Nov-2012 11:58 am

    you've forgotten 'let's push the envelope'.

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  • to get back to the article. multidisciplinary has just meant having individual disciplines under the same roof. It doesn't mean that teams work together. Interdisciplinary should mean that they should do, and to be honest this concept has been around for decades. It is another example of nurses being subservient and not being an equal member of a team. If a stroke patient is capable of sitting balance then get them out of bed and minimise the risks of pressure damage, chest/urine infections, etc. Do it, for the sake of the patient. We still have this discipline dominance that ebraces not stepping on toes instead doing the best for the patient. Transdiscipline, a step further, has been around for decades too and not even been addressed yet.

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  • The new buzz word is "intergrated care" advovating for more collaboration and really working together for the benefit of the patient. Multidisciplinary ? several disciplines! not necessarily working together

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  • Advocating for the patient

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