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Integrating Interprofessional Collaboration into Your Practice

Noémie Yacola
Noémie Yacola

Having a client who requires care that falls outside of your own area of expertise may frequently come up in your practice. The reality is that some cases are more complex than others and will end up in collaboration between several healthcare professionals from different professions. To optimize the quality of healthcare provided, this is where working according to the principles of interprofessional collaboration becomes important. In these situations, it is necessary to understand what interprofessional collaboration is, what the advantages are, and have guidelines that allow you to move towards a more collaborative practice.

What Is Interprofessional Collaboration?

There are multiple definitions to explain what interprofessional collaboration is. According to the Canadian Interprofessional Health Collaborative (CIHC; February 2010, p. 8) it is, “the process of developing and maintaining effective interprofessional working relationships with learners, practitioners, patients/clients/families and communities to enable optimal health outcomes.” In other words, Dr. Fortin, a psychologist with 35 years of experience in a hospital setting, explains that it is a question of individuals with different professional training working together to provide good care and health services to a clientele with diversified problems by promoting complementarity thanks to the differing expertise of the professionals involved. In fact, this same author suggests that the ideal would be for all professionals to focus on the same objective while integrating each other's opinions and points of view and being aware of their own skills and limitations.

The Many Advantages of Interprofessional Collaboration

There are many advantages to collaborative practice between professionals and the client. Here are just some of those advantages, but if you would like to learn more, we invite you to take a look at the references at the end of this article.

According to the Ordre des infirmières et infirmiers du Québec (Quebec Order of Nurses), having different healthcare professionals working together with the client allows each professional the opportunity to use their respective skills optimally. More specifically, a study on interprofessional collaboration in Quebec has reported many benefits for the client and their family including a feeling of empowerment and preventing avoidable errors. The study also shows the positive effects of interprofessional collaboration on professionals: more proactive and motivating practice, greater work satisfaction, and fewer cases of professional burnout. From our perspective, another positive impact of collaboration that should not be overlooked is the opportunity it provides in terms of professional growth. The same study also highlights the many advantages for the healthcare system such as reduction in hospital admissions, length of stay and readmission, lower cost of care, improved fluidity and efficiency, and access to enhanced services.

Competency Domains to Develop the Skills Necessary for Interprofessional Collaboration

To finish up, we would like to share some basic concepts that will help you optimise and direct your practice towards interdisciplinarity. These concepts are taken from the CIHC National Competency Framework.

The framework outlines six competency domains that shape the judgements essential for interprofessional collaborative practice:


Interprofessional communication: although each person involved comes from a different background, they must learn to communicate in a collaborative, responsible and responsive way (for example, actively listening to others, adapting language to ensure common understanding, etc.).


Patient/client/family/community-centred care: professionals involved must seek out, integrate, and value the client’s input and engagement as well as that of their family and their community in designing and implementing care (for example, supporting their active participation.).


Role clarification: each person must understand their own role and that of the other professionals involved and use this combined knowledge appropriately to work towards patient/client/family and community objectives.


Team functioning: professionals must understand and put into practice the principles of teamwork dynamics (for example, collaborative decision making, reflecting on team interactions, etc.).


Collaborative leadership: when designating a person to lead the group, the objective should be to favorize leadership principles that support collaborative practice (for example, applying collaborative decision-making principles.).


Interprofessional conflict resolution: each professional must have an attitude that encourages managing disagreements in a constructive and positive way (for example, recognizing situations with the potential for conflict, setting conflict resolution guidelines, etc.).

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