Inter-professional working, especially in engineering and healthcare, is critical. Working together enables professionals from the same area but different branches to share information. Furthermore, it increases the awareness of the team members of each other’s skills and knowledge which then leads to continued advancement in decision-making (O’Daniel & Rosentstein, 2008). Inter-professional in healthcare is defined as two or more people interacting with a common measurable goal (O’Daniel & Rosentstein, 2008). High-quality teamwork has its benefits; a better patient mortality rate decreased medical mistakes, strengthened patient safety, improved job satisfaction, and improved staff results.
Benefits of IPC
Inter-professional collaboration is usually used to solve complex issues and problems. In the healthcare system, inter-professionalism births patient advocacy, collaborative learning, healthcare collaboration, business collaborations, and collaborative efforts in funding and research (Green & Johnson, 2015). The fields of education, clinical practice, and study are interrelated. Through research, teaching is informed, which then impacts patient care and clinical practice. If we need to improve outcomes for practitioners, students, educational systems, and patients, interprofessional collaboration should be considered (Green & Johnson, 2015). Furthermore, if a professional such as a social worker is best to serve society in matters to do with health, collaboration is inevitable. The healthcare care field can also get more information concerning the community’s health issues and what contributes to those health issues through social workers.
Collaborations usually lead organizations, institutions, and professionals to achieve more than they could individually. Teamwork is required in areas where there is a demand for innovation and great flexibility (Green & Johnson, 2015). It has been proven already that inter-professional collaboration in the healthcare system leads to better health outcomes and services for the served populations. Moreover, it leads to improved skills mix, better efficiency, more holistic benefits, more significant responsiveness, more user-centered practice, creativity, and innovation (Green & Johnson, 2015). In addition, the WHO has connected inter-professional collaboration with better outcomes in infectious diseases, family health, responses to epidemics, humanitarian efforts, and non-communicable diseases (Green & Johnson, 2015). Collaborative care environments have also led to a decrease in length of hospital stay, complication and error rates, staff turnover, conflict among caregivers, and mortality rates.
Dangers of Medical errors
There are bound to be medical errors when professionals in the healthcare system are not collaborating. This is true, especially considering a case where a patient has been diagnosed with different health issues and thus, has to see other healthcare professionals. A lack of good communication leads to medical errors (O’Daniel & Rosentstein, 2008). This means that even when professionals are collaborating, there must be good communication to make collaboration a success. Lack of communication leads to unclear orders over the phone, lack of vital information on the patient, overlooked changes on the patient, and misinterpretation of data. Medical errors due to lack communication during collaborations lead to severe injury or even an unexpected death. The Joint Commission has been vocal in ensuring that the healthcare sector focuses on reducing deaths due to medical errors (O’Daniel & Rosentstein, 2008). After they found out that if medical errors were ranked among the ten leading causes of death, they would appear at position five. This means that it would be ahead of accidents, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, Diabetes, breast cancer, and gunshots (O’Daniel & Rosentstein, 2008).
Necessities of Collaboration
Several researchers have studied the effect of interprofessional collaboration. They have found that the healthcare field improves its ability and knowledge to care for populations when different departments in healthcare collaborate (Pinto et al., 2012). All teams from other departments come together and work as a unit, and therefore matters such as good communication skills, trust, and teamwork are crucial. For inter-professionalism to be considered a success in the healthcare system, the teams formed need to build trust, respect one another, and collaborate to achieve the set goal (O’Daniel & Rosentstein, 2008). Furthermore, inter-professionalism works best in the healthcare setting when considering protocols and having a clear common purpose; otherwise, the collaboration will be fruitful (Oandasan et al., 2006). An interdisciplinary approach should best be viewed when teamwork is regarded in the healthcare system. Unlike a multidisciplinary approach, an interdisciplinary approach will ensure that every professional involved applies their skills and knowledge with the rest of the members to achieve the common goal; one professional will not be working as an individual but rather as a unit with the entire team. Different specializations coming together lead to integrated interventions, which leads to better and quality patient care (O’Daniel & Rosentstein, 2008). The patient also finds it easy to relate to a cohesive team rather than several professionals who do not know the rest of the patient’s information.
Social Work and its Importance
I was a social worker in the inter-professional collaboration that took place. Social work is an area of study in the social sciences that deals with the study of social interventions and social problems (Yesudhas, Malar & Laavanya, 2014, pg. 2). Furthermore, social work studies persons, institutions, groups, and communities and is also a field directly involved in practice (NASW, 2022). Unlike so many other educational professions, social work is engaged with interventions in the area. Social work promotes problem-solving in human relations, liberation, and empowerment of people to enhance their well-being and supports social change. Principles of social justice and human rights are pivotal to social work.
Social workers are dedicated to ensuring that they alleviate communities from suffering such as poverty, gender-based violence, and street children. They are set to improve lives and communities through social justice. Examples of great social workers of the past include Jane Addams, Frances Parkins, Dorothy Height, and Whitney Young (NASW, 2022). Apart from alleviating pain and suffering, social workers are dedicated to civil rights. They are committed to helping communities, families, and individuals who need their help, social justice, and advocacy. They also offer community health centers and therapy and help keep students in school (NASW, 2022).
Furthermore, they are also the same people who help prisoners be assimilated back into society. Social workers also provide rehabilitation services to those in alcohol and drug centers. Moreover, they can be found in hospitals assisting people struggling with chronic illnesses and acute conditions (NASW, 2022). In nursing homes and homeless shelters, they provide long-term care. They are also the first responders to natural disasters. The primary mission of social workers is to offer services for the well-being of people, assist in meeting both the immediate and complex needs of people, but primarily focus on those vulnerable groups who are oppressed and living in poverty (NASW, 2022). They are a group of professionals who deal with individuals and the environment surrounding the individuals.
Social work is involved in advocacy and civil rights. Thus, it is a course that has regulations and protocols. These policies are what make social work relevant. Policy practice in social work refers to using social skills to suggest and change policies so that social workers can achieve the goal of social and economic justice.
Policy practice by social workers has enabled this profession to make so many strides over the past years. Efforts from Julia Lathrop to establish a juvenile court for children to recent advocacy by social workers for universal health have found that it is a profession dedicated to the well-being of all people (Clark, n.d., pg,2-10). Policy practice is vital in social work. It can be practiced at all levels, including state, local, and national levels, and within macro, micro, and mezzo levels of intervention. Social workers apply generalist social work perspectives and skills to change relevant bodies’ policies, rules, laws, and budgets (Weiss-gal and Gal, 2020, pg, 2-3). Policy practice in social work mainly exists to ensure that there is economic and social justice in the social environment so that every single person, regardless of their socioeconomic status, religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, has an equal chance of achieving success, not only for themselves but also for their families (Clark, n.d., pg, 2-10). Policy Practice is present in the code of ethics presented by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW); it states; “to enhance human well-being and to help meet basic human needs of all people, with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed and living in poverty” (Clark, n.d., pg 8).
Policy practice reflects the values that social work holds, including dignity, integrity, integrity, worth of the person, social justice, competence, and importance of human relations (Clark, n.d., pg 2-10). Not every policy practice is adequate; for policy, training to be practical, a social worker must learn to apply generalist practice skills; goal setting, engagement, implementation, planning, and monitoring progress. Effective policy practice does not only bring change to an individual but also brings change to a more extensive system in both social conditions and laws that affect the lives of millions of people.
Social work can also not be complete without policy advocacy. Policy advocacy is a policy practice that is aimed at helping groups that are powerless such as children, women, poor people, lesbians and gays, people of color, and people with disabilities, to improve their opportunities and resources for a better lifestyle (Clark, n.d., pg 8). Advocacy is only but a part of policy practice. Social workers do not affect policy practice as a single entity. They require other people.
For policy practice to be effective, some stakeholders participate during the entire process. These people are called stakeholders. Stakeholders are all those individuals and groups that are interested in policy practice initiatives (Clark, n.d., pg. 9). Stakeholders can include nurses, physicians, and social workers in the health sector. The views of stakeholders are crucial in effecting the policy practice. Four activities are essential in policy practice; policy analysis, advocating for policy change, building coalitions, and launching a campaign. These activities, if successfully done, can lead to policy change.
The Kolb Reflective Cycle
The Kolb reflective cycle is the reflective model that I choose to use in reflecting on what I have learned so far. The first step in this cycle is the concrete experience. It entails going through an experience physically and identifying that there is something new to learn or improve on an already existing skill (Dennison, 2010, pg. 1). The entire experience of collaborating with other professionals and experiencing firsthand the field practice with Jenny and Morris helped me see that the work of a social worker is vital, and passion for it has to exist. It is easy to feel overwhelmed on behalf of clients when witnessing their state.
Reflective observation entails looking at what worked or failed (Healey and Jenkins, 2000, pg,1-4). In the case of Morris and Jenny, not so much worked because Morris kept on refusing help from social workers. I could not go into their house most of the time to offer assistance because the door was always locked.
Abstract conceptualization refers to the stage where solutions for mistakes made are analyzed (Healey and Jenkins, 2000, pg.1-4). We should have looked for any of their close relatives and informed them of the situation the couple they are in (Harris et al., n.d., pg.1435). Probably, Morris would eventually accept to be helped by us. It has already been proven that persuasion from relatives most times works.
The last stage is active experimentation, which involves putting into practice what we learned (Healey and Jenkins, 2000, pg.1-4). I knew that involving relatives to persuade patients is a great way to offer them help. Furthermore, using legal methods to support them even if they do not consent to it immediately (Harris et al., n.d., pg. 1435).
We went through the five stages of Tuckman’s group theory. The stages include forming, storming, norming, performing, and adjourning (Jones, 2019, pg. 25-27). These stages are crucial to inter-professional collaboration because it establishes an effective team. Our team worked as a unit, always finding solutions as a team. We demonstrated every member’s skills, strengths, and weaknesses in the first stage. In the second stage, we ensured that we had an ordinary leader in helping iron things out when we could not agree. I realized that we became a complete team in the third stage. We could disagree but healthily. We were then able to perform our duties and adjourned.
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