The Case for Stronger Nurse Collaboration

In the fast-paced hospital settings that make up modern healthcare, coming together as a team can make or break clinical staff’s ability to effectively care for patients on their unit. On hospital units, collaboration is the most important aspect of team care (Bags, Ryan, 1990). Though nursing is a field that is filled with autonomy, there's still a need for collaboration between nurses and all other interdisciplinary functions.

In a recent study of 1228 units in 200 acute care hospitals in 41 states, nurses reported lower intent to leave, higher job satisfaction, and better quality of care in units with better collaboration and stronger nursing leadership (Chenjuan, Jingjing, Bott, 2015). Creating a care environment with strong collaboration among care providers and nursing leadership help hospitals maintain a competitive nursing workforce—with high quality of care. Each second of a patient’s care must be accounted for and monitored across all lines and peoples within each healthcare organization.

Often times, nurses are faced with increasing patient ratios and acuity levels, which can limit the amount of collaboration between nurses within each unit, which renders the motto “every patient is my patient” all but impossible. It’s important that nurses don’t just see their assigned patients as their only autonomous responsibility, but as an opportunity to lead the care of these patients through the collaborative effort of each nurse on their unit. Effective collaboration involves mutual attempts to find integrative solutions that meet the needs of both self and others.

The New Standard of Nurse Collaboration

Nobl Vigilance™ impacts nurse collaboration by continuously alerting every clinical member on the unit of how long it’s been since each patient was visited. Vigilance™ rounding maps are displayed in nursing stations and reflect a blueprint of each unit. Via color, rounding maps relay information on patients who are due to be rounded on. This enables each clinical member to round on patients, when nurses are busy caring in other areas.

This use of teamwork has proven to decrease adverse events within hospitals while increasing the collaboration between staff (Baggs, Ryan, 1990). Each nurse can rest assured that when their patient needs attention; their clinical team has their back.

Mary Follet, a pioneer in management theory, summarized it best:

“Collaboration is both a process and an outcome ... a collaborative outcome is the development of integrative solutions that go beyond an individual vision to a productive resolution that could not be accomplished by any single person or organization.”


Baggs, J.G., & Ryan, S.A. (1990). Intensive care unit nurse-physician collaboration and nurse
satisfaction. Nursing Economics 8, 386-392.

Chenjuan, M., Jingjing, S., & Bott, M.J. (2015). Linking Unit Collaboration and Nursing

The Strength to Succeed

Deep in the damp Minnesota woodland, hooting, hollering and random bursts of clapping can be heard in all directions. Every Nobl team member is present during our company retreat, where we’ve focused our growth on team development. Between the boat rides, grilling competitions and Rock Band sessions, we’ve been discovering our strengths. Thanks to the Gallup StrengthsFinder, we’ve been able to discuss, and enable each other to act upon and grow our amazing array of talents. Is it any wonder that more than half of our team has “achiever” as one of our top 5 strengths?

The team grilling together

Patrick Campbell, team project manager and our top “restorative” team member, says “building our strengths is what pushes people forward, and builds ideas. Taking everyone's individual strengths and focusing them to achieve a common goal is how companies move forward.”

According to Gallup, “The best way for people to grow and develop is to identify how they most naturally think, feel, and behave—their talents—then build on those talents to create strengths, or the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance.” To consistently provide near-perfect performance is a radical goal, but it seems achievable none-the-less.

This had my gears cranking. I’ve seen first-hand the importance of developing our strengths in an office setting, but what if that were to transfer over to other settings, like the battlefield of front-line nursing? Nurses don’t have the luxury of taking a week away from their unit to develop their strengths, but can it still be done? And if it could, what would the results look like, especially when translating to nurse collaboration, patient safety and patient experience?

In the peer-reviewed journal Issues in Mental Health Nursing, Paul Beckett, RN, BSc(Hons) MMHN et al. studied the effect of “Developing Person-Centered Culture in Inpatient Mental Health Settings through Strengths-Based, Transformational Leadership”, noting “there is a correlation among healthy workplace environments, healthy patients and the well-being of staff (Beckett, 2013).

Nobl working on Gallup Strengths Finder together

In the journey to reaching “near-perfect performance”, Beckett and co. hosted regular “away days”, in which nurses participating in the study were given PTO to take classes on strength development. During the first day, “the staff identified the themes of ‘safety and security,’ ‘staffing and skill mix,’ and ‘cultivating the heart and soul of the ward.’ as the prior-ity [sic] themes to be addressed.” The nursing staff goes on to emphasize “the importance of having all the team together, and for all members of the team to have the opportunity to contribute…” (Becker, 2013).

Thanks to the nurses’ efforts, many of them reported growing closer to their team, and being able to function better together. The impact and team unity that strength-development brings is proven to directly affect the quality of hourly rounds, leadership rounds, and patient care.

A week in Minnesota has been a game changer for the way the Nobl team functions. In a few short days, I’ve learned that a team who grows together, succeeds together. Going forward, we’ll bring our newly-recognized skillset into our hospitals, and empower our nurses with the strength to succeed.


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