Why collaboration is important in nursing

Collaboration and teamwork are often important aspects of work regardless of the profession. During job applications, most employers look for people who can collaborate well with colleagues and display exemplary teamwork and participation skills. For nurses, collaboration plays a very important role when they discharge their duties to their patients during their day and night shifts in their working units. Nurses collaborate not only among themselves but also with other medical healthcare workers.

Collaboration is important in nursing and it is key that aspiring nurses learn it as early as possible. Nurses learn collaboration as a skill as early as during their nursing school days. It can be practiced through teamwork in nursing school. Currently, there are online accelerated BSN programs offered that can help nurses to learn about different aspects of nursing and acquire collaboration skills. Accredited programs, such as the one run by Wilkes University, support students through various specialties in nursing within clinical placements. They ensure a breadth of knowledge and the key collaborative skills needed to succeed. It is a great advantage for nurses to have the collaborative skills that are core to their career practice.

Keep reading this article to find out more about the importance of collaboration in nursing.

Establishes common goals

Quality patient care is the ultimate goal for nurses and other healthcare workers. It is important that nurses collaborate with their colleagues and with other members of the healthcare profession, such as physicians, doctors, nutritionists, surgeons and physiotherapists, to create a common goal unique to each patient according to their needs. Establishing common goals within the multidisciplinary healthcare team helps ensure that the patient’s interests are a consideration for all the team members and that everyone collaborates to achieve the goal.

Establishing common goals within the healthcare and nursing professions also helps create a care plan for the patient. The nurses also collaborate with the patient to understand their priorities and plan for their care. All advanced nursing careers require collaboration, and it is not limited to only those in specific hospital units. When nurses fail to collaborate, each person has a different outcome in mind, which may delay the care and slow the treatment time for the patient.

Fosters open communication

Communication is an important aspect of collaboration. It is also a key element in nursing practice. Collaboration and teamwork in nursing help foster open communication as the nurses and other healthcare professionals are expected to give suggestions and feedback on patient care. When any special orders are included in the plan of care of a patient, there must be communication, either verbal or written. In case of challenges in implementing care plans, collaboration helps the nurses communicate and share the challenges with fellow nurses or the relevant healthcare practitioner.

Promotes leadership skills

Collaboration in nursing means that nurses must work together for specific patients in a hospital unit. Team nursing is where nurses form a team and collaborate to implement the plan of care for the patients. This involves nurses at different qualification levels collaborating. All nursing teams have team leaders. In collaboration at work, team leaders usually get an opportunity to develop and grow their leadership skills. However, delegation may be a strategy to help them establish their skills if they do not get an opportunity to lead.

Collaboration helps ensure that at least each team member gets an opportunity to practice leadership and enhance their leadership skills. These skills can be employed in active bedside nursing duties, planning patient care, and communicating with the multidisciplinary team taking care of the patient. New graduate nurses should also learn leadership skills to improve their performance at work, and this can be fostered through collaboration.

Facilitates delegation

One of the important roles of nurse leaders and managers is delegation. Collaboration helps nurses to effectively carry out the delegation. For delegation to work, there has to be open communication, mutual agreement, and collaboration between the delegator and the delegate. When there is collaboration, especially between the floor nurses and hospital administrative nurses, delegation becomes easy to achieve. For delegation to be effective, the collaboration between the two parties has to be constantly ongoing. They collaborate to discuss the goals, expected outcome, available support, and the expected date or time that the task should be completed. Delegation only works if the nurse performing the task is comfortable doing it, there is support and collaboration, and they consent to accept the delegation.

Creates a safe environment

Collaboration among nurses helps to create a safe environment for the nurses and the patients. A safe environment for nurses includes a space for open communication and consultation and a workplace free from physical hazards or harmful objects. A safe environment for patients consists of open communication where they can express their authentic selves and needs. Collaboration between the nurse and the patient makes it easy for the patient to recover quickly as they are involved in their care plan. Their environment is adjusted for them to be safe not only in communicating but also in participating in their own care and doing some basic tasks individually under supervision or with the help of a nurse. A safe environment where nurses communicate and collaborate helps them work well under minimum supervision. A safe environment also means that the family, patient and healthcare workers are able to reach agreements concerned with the care of the patient.

Helps in successful negotiation

Like other careers, nursing often faces issues such as salary adjustment and working hours. When there is collaboration, nurses can jointly express their concerns through their representatives. Major concerns that affect nurses at a global level include working hours, salary adjustment and nurse-patient ratio. When there is collaboration among nurses, they can express their authentic needs and concerns. Often, without collaboration from all the nurses, it becomes difficult for their concerns to be addressed. Being divided regarding needs and concerns often leads to unsuccessful negotiations between nurses, their unions and the concerned government. Therefore, it is a concern that the nurses collaborate for their issues to be addressed and for their rights to be served for them to work comfortably.

Promotes effective use of resources

Collaboration helps nurses to utilize resources effectively. The scarcity of resources may be a major challenge in nursing when caring for patients. When nurses collaborate, they can utilize the resources well, minimize wastage and prevent resource scarcity. Effective utilization of resources can be implemented by nurses grouping activities or sharing activities. This approach also saves time as a resource. Effective utilization of resources also means that nurses get the adequate resources they require when caring for patients so that they are not affected by the risk of infection at work. It also ensures that the patients are well cared for and not affected by nosocomial infections. Collaboration as a step in promoting effective utilization of resources may include nurses agreeing on routine tasks and when they are to be done.

Reduces stress levels among nurses

When nurses collaborate, they share their duties, which significantly reduces the burden of caring for patients individually. Burnout is common in nurses, but it should not always be the case. Nurses suffer from burnout when they are overwhelmed by nursing duties and stress. When nurses collaborate, the stress is significantly reduced, and they can work well and improve the quality of life for the patients. It is key that nurses work without stress to create and implement good care plans. Collaboration is one of the steps that can be used to prevent and handle burnout among nurses. When nurses collaborate at work, they also get to communicate and share their concerns with colleagues. This can also help in dealing with other stressors that are not necessarily related to work but can influence the outcome of their work.

Increases job satisfaction and morale among nurses

Collaboration plays an important role in ensuring that nurses are satisfied when discharging their duties and that they are satisfied with their jobs. Job satisfaction plays a significant role in nurses’ motivation to actively care for their patients. With collaboration, there is less experience of fatigue compared to working as an individual. Morale at work is established when nurses know that they can count on each other. Therefore, nurses have high morale for work and a feeling of job satisfaction.

Achieving job satisfaction and high morale also contribute to quality care given to patients, as nurses work well when collaborating. True collaboration in nursing will have all the major aspects of nursing collaboration, increased job satisfaction and high morale for work. When there is true job satisfaction, more people are likely to join the nursing profession. Having high morale for work also helps nurses to set both individual and collaborative goals and intentionally work toward achieving those goals.

Improves general patient outcomes

Providing quality care to the patient is the ultimate goal of discharging healthcare services to the patients. Improved patient outcomes mean that patients are satisfied with the services offered and their health improves. Assessing the improvement of patient outcomes can be done during the treatment period or after the treatment period. Sometimes patients can verbalize their improved outcome in health, and they may link it to nurses and interdisciplinary collaboration. Allowing nurses to participate in an interdisciplinary approach to patient care can help to significantly decrease inefficiencies experienced with patient care. Improved patient outcomes leave the patients, family or friends, and the entire collaborative healthcare team satisfied with positive outcomes.

Allows room for growth

Collaboration in nursing gives nurses room for growth. Nurses collaborate and allow each other to learn and practice new skills. Collaboration also enables them to refine the skills they already have. As collaboration may involve nurses at different career levels, it is a key step in promoting personal growth and skills. New graduate nurses often benefit from collaboration in nursing as they are guided in most skills. They also add value to the nurses they collaborate with as their knowledge of most diseases is often current.

General care nurses can also benefit from nurses in advanced nursing practice. The growth is not limited to new nurses – other nurses can learn from different specialties. Nurses can learn from other professional healthcare workers, and they can learn from doctors or surgeons, which keeps collaboration and growth mutual.

Decreases medical and procedural errors

One of the important aspects of collaboration in nursing is that it reduces the chances of medical errors. Some medical errors can be lethal. Medical errors such as administering the wrong drugs, administering drugs through the wrong route, or administering interacting drugs can be reduced when nurses collaborate. Some drugs have a narrow index between the therapeutic dosage and lethal dosage.

Collaboration can enable the nurses to confirm the dosage of drugs before administering them. Collaboration can therefore help to decrease medical errors and save patients’ lives. Some drugs with a narrow therapeutic index include most cardiac drugs, antibiotics such as aminoglycosides, and psychiatric drugs such as lithium. For drugs with a narrow therapeutic index, overdose can cause lethal effects on the patient. To avoid the adverse effects, collaboration in nursing must be promoted.

Reduces healthcare costs

Healthcare is one aspect that carries a large percentage of expenditure in different countries. Collaboration among nurses or other healthcare professionals fosters effective utilization of resources, and this will directly translate to saving on healthcare costs. Collaboration will also lead to lower healthcare costs by reducing the number of readmissions as patients will get quality healthcare services. Collaboration will also help to decrease healthcare costs by saving on medicines that would be wasted through overdosages or medical errors. Saving on the cost of healthcare is a major advantage of collaboration in nursing.


It is key that employers foster collaboration among their nurses so that they can get the benefits. The benefits of collaboration are experienced by patients, families, employers and colleagues. It is important that nurses learn to work in collaborative environments as it will help them considerably in their practice.

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