July 26, 2005
in response to Nurse-Physician Workplace Collaboration
I read with interest Lindeke’s and Sieckert’s article titled "Nurse-Physician Workplace Collaboration." The authors provide some sound strategies for fostering collaborative work relationships that have universal applications. However, for these strategies to become embraced in any meaningful way in the health care setting, nursing and medical leadership must be of one mind on this issue.
It’s not by accident that cultural maturity has a funny way of manifesting itself one hospital at a time. The seeking of Magnet status and the intensified focus on patient safety are two priorities that have catalyzed the transformation of the nurse-physician relationship in many hospitals. These issues translate well into the "bottom line" based language of today’s health care executive. Enhanced work relationships reduce attrition and recruitment costs. The concomitant reduced morbidity and mortality translate into market share and reimbursement gains because patients and payers favor hospitals that are associated with higher quality. Strong nurse-physician relationships aren’t just nice to have; they give hospitals a distinct competitive edge. Hospital executives must set realistic and measurable goals towards this end that are linked with compensation (Smith, 2004). When Chief Nursing Officers and Chief Medical Officers tie the enrichment of nurse-physician collaboration with hospitals’ corporate strategic objectives and when realistic metrics are employed to monitor progress, they become allies on this issue of collaboration.
Dysfunctional nurse-physician relationships have long been the bane to workplace morale in the health care setting, not to mention the deleterious affect they’ve had on patient outcomes. Real, enduring changes in the nurse-physician dynamic will come about when hospital executives come to understand that it’s in their financial best interest to drive such changes. And only then I’m afraid, will novel collaboration strategies such as those outlined by the authors, be relegated to anything more than "flavor of the month" status. These strategies deserve better treatment than that.
Kenneth A. Pinette
Senior Nursing Student
Smith, A. P. (2004). Partners at the bedside: The importance of nurse-physician relationships. Nursing Economics, 22(3), 161-165