Skip to main content

Interprofessional Collaboration in Nursing: Examples and Benefits


To provide patients with the highest level of care, nursing professionals need more than just good bedside manner and advanced clinical acumen. They also need the ability to cooperate and collaborate with other health professionals, exhibiting the values of teamwork and professional camaraderie. Good teamwork is essential for not only employee morale but also the best patient outcomes.


What makes interpersonal collaboration in nursing so essential to the patient experience? For one, patients often need to receive care from multiple providers or specialists to have the most holistic, comprehensive treatment. For example, a patient who is treated for breast cancer may benefit from the interventions of an oncologist, a dermatologist, and a reconstructive surgeon.


The nurses involved need to work well with different professionals, ensuring that the full continuum of care provides the same high standards of quality and safety. Similarly, a patient who is in the hospital for an extended period of time may receive treatment from multiple nurses and doctors, making it essential for these providers to be on the same page, clinically and professionally speaking.


For nurses who wish to develop their skills in interprofessional collaboration, advanced training can be invaluable. An accelerated degree program provides the opportunity to hone various practical skills, including the skills related to teamwork in nursing.

What Is Interprofessional Collaboration in Nursing?

The concept of interprofessional collaboration is more complicated than it might seem at first. It’s important to understand the definition of interprofessional collaboration in nursing, what separates it from other types of collaboration, and what skills are most essential for successful interprofessional collaboration in the nursing field.

What Is Interprofessional Collaboration?

Interprofessional collaboration occurs when professionals from different occupations work together to solve complex problems or to achieve shared goals. In the context of nursing, it means professionals from different healthcare disciplines are working together to provide patient-centered care.


For healthcare professionals, interprofessional communication usually involves three basic activities: research, education, and clinical work.


To study a new disease or innovate pharmaceutical interventions, professionals from different disciplines may need to come together. For example, the development of a vaccine for children may require input from pediatricians as well as infectious disease specialists.


Interprofessional collaboration is also an important aspect of education, as it gives nursing or medical students insight into different disciplines. For example, a nurse looking to develop comprehensive skills may benefit from learning under an urgent care professional, a psychiatric health provider, and a women’s health specialist.

Clinical Work

Interprofessional collaboration matters in direct patient care as well. Providers from different specialties can share valuable insights into specific cases or into broader initiatives to improve an organization’s safety, quality, and efficiency of care.

Comparison of Interprofessional, Multidisciplinary, and Interdisciplinary Approaches

To properly understand interprofessional collaboration in nursing, distinguishing it from both multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches is important. These terms are sometimes assumed to be synonymous, but they have some important distinctions.


  • Interprofessional collaboration refers to any kind of team-up between different medical professionals, who may come from different disciplines or who may share the same areas of expertise.
  • An interdisciplinary approach can be more narrowly defined as caregivers from two different specialties interacting, such as an allergist and a dermatologist working together to help a patient with an unusual rash.
  • The term “multidisciplinary” may simply refer to professionals from different fields who happen to be working in the same space together. A facility housing different specialists may be called a multidisciplinary practice, even if the providers seldom collaborate directly.

Why Does Interprofessional Collaboration in Nursing Matter?

Interprofessional collaboration is important to the nursing profession because most of today’s practices aim to connect patients with teams of professionals, as opposed to individual providers, to ensure holistic care. When different professionals work together in harmony, it allows them to create personalized care plans that treat the whole patient, as opposed to addressing isolated symptoms or complaints. Nurses who are skilled in collaboration can play an essential role in facilitating these interactions between providers and also in ensuring that the patient’s needs remain paramount.

Key Skills for Interprofessional Collaboration

Numerous skills prove essential for nurses who wish to collaborate effectively with other nurses and providers. These skills include the following:


  • Clarity is key. Nurses need to be ready to convey details about a diagnosis, a treatment plan, or patient reactions to various providers and to write clear and accurate patient histories. The ability to communicate a care plan with patients and family members is also crucial.
  • This may seem obvious, but the significance of working well with others can’t be overemphasized. Nurses need to understand that while they play an essential role, they’re still part of a team in which every specialty or discipline matters.
  • Decision-making. Shared decision-making goes hand in hand with teamwork. The best nurses can collaborate with other providers to reach a consensus about how best to diagnose or treat a patient.
  • Emphasis on patient care. Most critical of all is the ability to provide personalized care to patients, exhibiting both clinical precision and a caring, compassionate bedside manner. The most effective nurses are those who can be patient advocates.

Examples of Interprofessional Collaboration in Nursing

There are many pertinent examples of interprofessional collaboration in nursing, showing how clinical professionals from many different disciplines can work together to provide the highest standards of patient care. These include examples that take place in the research, education, and clinical care settings, spanning hospitals, private practices, and community clinics.

Caring for Patients with Complex Conditions

Some of the clearest examples of interprofessional collaboration in nursing involve different providers coming together to develop effective treatments for patients who have complex medical conditions.


Countless examples of medical conditions exist that might require this type of collaborative approach. For example, consider a patient who’s been in a serious accident that results in major and chronic musculoskeletal problems. This patient might require help from a pain management specialist to go about day-to-day life as well as from a rehabilitation nurse or physical therapist to regain mobility and function.


A primary care provider may also play an invaluable role in assessing long-term ramifications and in recommending strategies to promote recovery. Care for this kind of patient might take several months or years, requiring multiple clinicians to be on the same page at all times. In other words, interprofessional collaboration is key for ensuring the best patient outcomes.

Addressing Complex Pharmaceutical Plans

Another example of interprofessional collaboration in nursing is the relationship between nurses and pharmacists.


This relationship is especially important for patients who require the intervention of multiple pharmaceuticals, whether to manage a complex chronic illness or to help address multiple maladies that happen to coexist. Collaboration between nurses and pharmacists can ensure the most efficient treatment plan, preventing overmedication. It can also be an important safeguard against medications that interact in unexpected or adverse ways. Again, this is an example of collaboration as a means for achieving superior patient outcomes and for promoting patient safety.

Seeking Understanding of Social Determinants

While clinical care is one of the primary avenues for collaboration, it’s also important for nurses to work with other specialists to advance clinical research.


One example of this is ongoing research into the social determinants that can affect wellness outcomes. For example, a condition like diabetes is often connected with diet, but what about other mitigating factors, such as income level, education level, and cultural context? Determining the factors that make a person more likely to have diabetes or less likely to seek treatment can be incredibly helpful, and this process can benefit from robust interprofessional collaboration between nurses, social workers, and other care professionals.

Providing Robust Clinical Education

Collaboration is also essential for ensuring that the next generation of nursing professionals receives a robust, comprehensive education.


Imagine a nursing program that offers training for helping patients who have eating disorders. This training would benefit from the input of nurses who can speak to the physical effects of an eating disorder on the body, including the potential for cardiovascular effects. At the same time, this training would be incomplete without the expertise of a psychiatric mental health practitioner who could speak to the mental and emotional dimensions of an eating disorder. Both disciplines are needed to ensure that nursing students have a clear understanding of how to intervene in the lives of their patients.

Benefits of Interprofessional Collaboration in Nursing

The benefits of interprofessional collaboration in nursing are numerous and include benefits to nurses, patients, and entire health organizations. Consider just a few of the most noteworthy benefits of interprofessional collaboration in nursing.

Improved Results

Nurses and providers who communicate their findings and work toward shared goals generally provide higher-quality results for patients. Imagine a patient who checks into the hospital because they’re experiencing pain while breathing. They may need to see multiple medical professionals to receive a full battery of tests and potential diagnoses.


By working together, these providers can share their findings, discuss the most likely scenarios, and create the most efficient and effective treatment plan. By arriving at the right conclusions as expediently as possible, care teams can improve patient satisfaction and lower readmission rates.

Reduced Cost of Care

Interprofessional collaboration can reduce errors — and, in turn, reduce costs. Healthcare organizations that emphasize collaboration tend to have fewer redundant tests and unnecessary treatments; this not only helps the organization itself be more efficient but also lowers the end cost for patients. Consider that when a nurse reviews the diagnostic tests that a previous nurse has already performed, it may rule out the need to perform some of these tests again or even point toward a diagnostic path that might prove more fruitful.

Increased Job Satisfaction

A collaborative spirit generally creates a more positive work environment. After all, a workplace that emphasizes interpersonal collaboration will usually elevate diverse voices and help all nurses feel empowered to speak up and participate in clinical decision-making. By providing nurses with a greater sense of autonomy, health organizations can reduce burnout and turnover while promoting employee engagement. All this contributes to stronger, more cohesive teams and lowered human resources costs.

Easier Access to Information

Sometimes, a specific type of information or technology may be restricted to a particular specialty or department. Interpersonal collaboration can make these resources more widely available and help doctors and nurses have a more accurate and holistic sense of the entire patient care process. For example, when a primary care provider can easily access records from a specialist, it can lead to more efficient and data-driven decisions about patient treatment plans.

Skill Formation

Still, another of the benefits of interprofessional collaboration is that it gives nurses opportunities to cultivate diverse skill sets. This is true of collaboration across not only different clinical specialties but also different types of administrative work. For example, working closely with front-office team members can help nurses become more proficient in organization, computer skills, and customer service. Every collaborative relationship can be a learning experience for both parties.

A Curriculum to Prepare for a Nursing Career

Success in the nursing profession is predicated on sound training and thorough education. This is true even of fostering interprofessional collaboration in nursing. In order to develop the professional skills needed to work well with other caregivers, obtaining the right kind of training is essential.

Choosing a BSN to DNP Program

While registered nurses (RNs) only need to have undergraduate-level degrees, most commonly Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees, some nurses may wish to pursue a terminal degree in their profession. The Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) leads to an opportunity to develop sophisticated nursing skills, including a deeper level of insight into health policy, nurse leadership, and clinical ethics.


Many nurses with a BSN may be drawn to a program like Maryville University’s online BSN to DNP program because it not only affords the opportunity to hone DNP skills but also is condensed and accelerated. In other words, students can skip the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) step, earning their DNP on a shorter timeline.

About the BSN to DNP Curriculum

Maryville’s BSN to DNP program boasts a robust curriculum, supplying students with comprehensive insight into advanced practice nursing. Coursework includes the following:


  • Theoretical Foundations of Nursing Practice. In this course, nurses become more adept at applying different nursing paradigms, theories, and frameworks to real-world cases, arriving at the best clinical decisions to promote patient health and safety.
  • Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing. In this course, nursing students grow in their understanding of evidence-based practice as it relates to changing and improving nursing practice. Evidence-based practice is the deliberate use of current best practice in making informed decisions regarding patient treatment and care.
  • Ethics for Advanced Nursing Practice. In this course, DNP students analyze a wealth of interprofessional literature to consider real-life ethical conundrums and develop a fully formed ethic of nursing practice.
  • Professional Role Development. In this course, students evaluate all the different roles that advanced practice nurses can serve in the healthcare system, considering not just implications for patient care but also legal and ethical considerations.
  • Advanced Health Assessment. In this course, DNP students are furnished with a robust tool box for completing patient health assessments, which nurses must be prepared to conduct in various settings, efficiently and effectively, all with the ultimate goal of wellness promotion.
  • Foundations of Clinical Scholarship. In this course, students are allowed to work on their professional skills, including skills related to writing and to research. This can be an especially impactful course for those looking to develop interprofessional collaboration abilities.

Establish a Collaborative Nursing Career

The most successful nurses know how to work harmoniously and productively with other clinical professionals, advancing efficient treatment plans and pursuing the best possible patient outcomes. To develop a truly collaborative practice, the right education is essential.


Consider an advanced training path, such as Maryville’s online BSN to DNP. In this program, students have the opportunity to develop the competencies needed to create workplace cultures that truly prioritize interprofessional collaboration in nursing. Find out more about the BSN to DNP program and how it can prepare you for a rewarding career as part of a patient care team.


Student support specialist helping online student in café

Learn more about our programs.

Student sitting outdoors on her computer

Take your next step.

Stay in the know

Program Type
Program Name
Total tuition:
Program Type
Program Name