Implementing a nurse-shadowing program for first-year medical students to improve interprofessional collaborations on health care teams

National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education's picture
Submitted by National Center... on Mar 14, 2014 - 11:14am CDT

Although physicians and nurses play critical roles in providing team-based collaborative care, the literature on current relationships between physicians and nurses in typical health care settings reveals troublesome characteristics that affect the quality of the patient care that they provide. Studies report communication failures, poor coordination, and fragmented care within and across organizations, which then have been associated with medication errors, patient safety issues, and patient deaths. Because the physician-nurse relationship is a critical component of a high-functioning patient care team, curricular interventions are needed to improve communication between physicians and nurses and to avoid professional conflict that can potentially compromise the quality of the patient care they offer.Currently, medical schools provide students with limited education and training on the roles of other health care professionals. In 2009, to begin addressing this need in the curriculum, the authors implemented a nurse-shadowing program at the University of Michigan Medical School. They set out to help first-year medical students learn more about the role of nurses in health care to positively influence their attitudes toward nurses and improve their understanding of nurses' roles in health care teams. Pre- and postprogram survey results revealed that medical students' attitudes toward nurses improved and their knowledge of the profession increased as a result of this intervention. In this article, the authors provide a description of the half-day program, evidence of its effectiveness, the implications of those findings, and future directions for teaching medical students about effectively working on interprofessional teams.

PubMed URL:

Jain, Anuja
Luo, Eva
Yang, Jun
Purkiss, Joel
White, Casey
Journal Citation: 
Academic Medicine. 87(9):1292-5, 2012 Sep.