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  1. Section Editor(s): Laskowski-Jones, Linda MS, APRN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM, FAAN

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We need to promote a new expectation for education in healthcare...one that routinely brings different disciplines into the same environment to learn together. Organizations like the American Heart Association have it right in promoting team-based learning through their Pediatric Advanced Life Support and adult Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support courses, for example, where participants from various backgrounds and specialties, such as prehospital providers, nurses, physicians, and clinical pharmacists, receive the same educational content and are tested in interdisciplinary groups using simulation methods. This model works exceptionally well to prepare individuals to function in concert with one another.

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Healthcare is a team sport. Yet why are so many educational initiatives in the workplace primarily discipline-specific? Yes, I recognize that learning in a silo is appropriate in some circumstances. However, in many instances it's advantageous to have a mutual understanding of everyone's roles and expectations in taking care of a particular patient population, health problem, or process. Likewise, having a shared sense of the goals, risks, barriers, and opportunities better enables team problem solving and collaboration.


Unfortunately, the typical educational model in most healthcare settings today is still based upon the tradition of nurses learning information specific to nursing, physicians focusing on the medical aspects, and allied healthcare professionals concentrating on their own disciplines. Is it any wonder that healthcare delivery can come across quite fragmented to patients and their significant others-and maybe even to the very people delivering it?


Joint learning promotes an appreciation for the contributions of the various disciplines in the healthcare continuum. Professionals are better able to both understand and anticipate each other's actions, making it easier to recognize when a plan is or isn't going in the expected direction and to communicate effectively.


What's the challenge? Successfully implementing interdisciplinary education means that individuals must be willing to expand their frame of reference to include information that may be beyond the scope of what directly pertains to their practice. For those challenged by that concept, I'm reminded of my response to students who want to learn only content that will be on the test: Will you tell your patient, "Sorry...I didn't need to learn about that"?


Until next time,


Linda Laskowski-Jones, MS, APRN, ACNS-BC, CEN, FAWM, FAAN

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Editor-in-Chief, Nursing2016 Vice President: Emergency & Trauma Services Christiana Care Health System, Wilmington, Del.