When I was a nursing student at McMaster University in 2003 I was working on an orthopedic surgery floor with several of my peers. I was learning how to provide basic nursing care to my patient, a 72 year old woman who had just had a double knee replacement. I tried eagerly to stay on top of my responsibilities, providing her medications at the designated times, documenting her food intake and monitoring her urine output.
Upon return from my afternoon break I learned that the physiotherapist had come in to see Mrs. Bourns. I found out, however, only because upon entering my patient’s room she told me that she was in a lot of discomfort after all of those exercises.
I was baffled. My patient, the one I’d been giving nursing care to that day, had been visited (without my knowledge) by a different team member and guided through exercises that are sure to cause discomfort.
I knew there was a better way. As a student, being trained to care for the well-being of my patient, I should have been introduced to the different disciplines involved in the care of a post-surgical ortho patient. I should have been aware that she would have this treatment in the afternoon so that I could proactively provide analgesics. I should have been explained that there was much more then the doctor’s orders, and me the nurse, carrying them out.
In the end, without a lot of self-direction, I learned that post-surgical weight bearing exercises are necessary to avoid immobility. I learned that physiotherapists are trained in the therapeutic use of exercise physiology and that they see patients to show them the correct way to move after receiving a knee replacement. I learned that really, there was a team caring for my patient.
So since that day, I have worked on and advocated for interprofessional education and collaboration. From chairing the Interprofessional Student Council during my undergrad, to being a part of the inauguration of the National Health Sciences Student’s Association of Canada, to being a representative on the Interprofessional Education Committee of McMaster University’s Faculty of Health Sciences.
So here it is, a community clinic providing seamless and comprehensive team based care. Isn’t it true that we all really do need each other?