Introducing the nurse practitioner into the surgical ward: an ethnographic study of interprofessional teamwork practice

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Abstract

Aim:

The first nurse practitioners in surgical care were introduced into Swedish surgical wards in 2014. Internationally, organisations that have adopted nurse practitioners into care teams are reported to have maintained or improved the quality of care. However, close qualitative descriptions of teamwork practice may add to existing knowledge of interprofessional collaboration when introducing nurse practitioners into new clinical areas. The aim was to report on an empirical study describing how interprofessional teamwork practice was enacted by nurse practitioners when introduced into surgical ward teams.

Methods and results:

The study had a qualitative, ethnographic research design, drawing on a sociomaterial conceptual framework. The study was based on 170 hours of ward-based participant observations of interprofessional teamwork practice that included nurse practitioners. Data were gathered from 2014 to 2015 across four surgical sites in Sweden, including 60 interprofessional rounds. The data were analysed with an iterative reflexive procedure involving inductive and theory-led approaches. The study was approved by a Swedish regional ethics committee (Ref. No.: 2014/229-31). The interprofessional teamwork practice enacted by the nurse practitioners that emerged from the analysis comprised a combination of the following characteristic role components: clinical leader, bridging team colleague and ever-present tutor. These role components were enacted at all the sites and were prominent during interprofessional teamwork practice.

Conclusion:

The participant nurse practitioners utilised the interprofessional teamwork practice arrangements to enact a role that may be described in terms of a quality guarantee, thereby contributing to the overall quality and care flow offered by the entire surgical ward team.

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