Authors:Sarah Ann Balcom and Shelley Doucet
Today, registered nurses and practical nurses work together in teams with other healthcare professionals to meet patients’ needs. This team approach requires effective collaboration to ensure patients benefit from the knowledge, expertise and skills of each team member and to avoid duplication of care. The need for registered nurses and practical nurses to collaborate intraprofessionally is a fairly recent development in nursing. Unfortunately, shadows of the past lie heavily on nursing and historical intraprofessional hierarchies and rivalries continue to influence the profession today. Registered nurses and practical nurses have largely overlapping scopes of practice in patient care, but registered nurses can practice with more independence, develop nursing care plans, and may assume more supervisory roles. Unfortunately, their similar scopes of practice can result in feelings of competition rather than those of collaboration. In this paper, we discuss how historical developments in nursing have contributed to the challenges, such as intra and interprofessional hierarchies, that registered and practical nurses now face when they try to work together collaboratively in various healthcare settings. We also present a model to explain how registered nurses and practical nurses have, throughout their shared history, continued to become more adept at meeting these challenges, and accomplish their goals collaboratively. Finally, we present the implications for nurse leaders working in administrative, teaching, and practice settings and suggest strategies to overcome the historical challenges to intraprofessional collaboration so that the past is not repeated in the future.
Keywords: intraprofessional collaboration;history;nursing