Skip to Main Content

Healthcare delivery involves a diverse and amazing tapestry of highly specialized professions. This makes teamwork in healthcare delivery more challenging than in virtually any other sphere of human work activity. It requires that professionals go to extra lengths to learn about the other members of their teams so that each team member can call on all the others to contribute everything they are able to offer in the service of patients or in the support of patient care. In this chapter we describe and compare the roles, education, and values of the professionals who are the most common members of healthcare teams.

Newly graduated with the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree and employed by Community Medical Center for 1 month, pharmacist Jerry Young turned to his colleague, Nancy Burns, BSPharm, for advice. Ms. Burns had worked at Community Medical Center for all of her 30-year career. Dr. Young asked, "How often do the physicians and nurses in the hospital call you for advice? I've been here a month now, and I've only talked to you and other pharmacists and patients. I think I could contribute more by giving more input into decisions about prescriptions and side effects. It would prevent some issues that I think some patients will have down the road." Ms. Burns thought awhile and carefully commented, "I get several inquiries a week from physicians, and a few from nurses. I imagine you will get some calls, once people get to know you. We don't have a lot of opportunities to share our knowledge with the clinical staff, though, so it may take a few years. Nurses and physicians are becoming more receptive to suggestions by pharmacists, but change is slow. Many physicians and some nurses still think that we spend our days counting pills, sad to say."

Dr. Young's dilemma is a common one in healthcare delivery. Changes in knowledge occur more and more rapidly, and workplace roles in several healthcare professions are undergoing transformation as newly trained graduates become qualified to dispense new knowledge and provide new services. As a recent PharmD graduate, Dr. Young may have different expectations for his role than his colleague Ms. Burns has. Indeed, Dr. Young holds a doctoral-level degree, now the entry-level degree for pharmacists, compared to Ms. Burns' baccalaureate degree (therefore the appellation Dr. for Jerry Young). Ms. Burns was educated, trained, and worked in an earlier era of healthcare delivery. New practitioners enter a workforce in which old patterns of interaction are difficult to change. Practitioners are focused on mastering their own specialized work domains. Their images of other professionals and the training received by them are often formed early in their experience base, and the images may be difficult to change. Dr. Young will have to work hard to communicate and demonstrate the value of his pharmacy knowledge to some practitioners and patients. The benefits of specialized knowledge will be lost if practitioners are unable ...

Pop-up div Successfully Displayed

This div only appears when the trigger link is hovered over. Otherwise it is hidden from view.