Interprofessional Working - Part 1

Interprofessional Working


Table of Contents

Abstract ...........................................................................................................................................3

1.0  Introduction................................................................................................................................5

2.0  Background to collaboration in inter-professional working......................................................7

2.1  Review of themes of leadership and culture in relation to collaboration......................9

2.2  Culture............................................................................................................................9

2.3  Structure.......................................................................................................................11

2.4  Process.........................................................................................................................12

3.0 Managing conflicts in inter-professional teams……………………………………………...12

3.1 Nature of leadership………………………………………………………………………….15

3.2 Leadership style……………………………………………………………………………...16

3.3 Reflection on the impact of leadership on interprofessional working between MTSA,  

      Canterbury Christ University and the local schools…………………………………………18

4.0 Conclusion and recommendations…………………………………………………………...18




Intraprofessional working between institutions and organisations is currently being considered as an effective approach in providing solutions and meeting multiple interrelated needs in different areas. The education sector constitutes one of the areas in which interprofessional working is increasingly being applied.  This paper entails a critical analysis of interprofessional working between Medway Teaching  School, Canterbury Christ Church University, and the local schools in the delivery of school direct teaching program, teacher’s training course, and staff CPD.  The analysis is achieved by examining how collaboration can be entrenched by dealing with issues that might hinder interprofessional working such as conflicts within the interprofessional teams.  In  analysing interprofessional work, the paper examines the fundamental aspects that organisations intending to adopt this approach must take into consideration.  First, a brief introduction to intraprofessional working and the rationale for its adoption in the UK education sector is provided. The paper identifies the existence of conflicts within interprofessional teams as one of the main threats to interprofessional working.  An extensive analysis of collaboration in interpofessional working is provided. In analysing this aspect, the paper explores the core elements that organisations should take into consideration in order to promote interprofessional work.  The core elements of interprofessional working examined include the elements of culture, process, and structure. In light of the fact that conflicts are inherent under interprofessional working situations, the paper examines how organisations engaged in interprofessional working can overcome such conflicts. This goal is achieved by evaluating how organisations can apply interprofessional working by fostering a collaborative culture and by naturing shared goals. The analysis further examines the role of leadership in enhancing interprofessional working. This outcome is achieved by evaluating the significance of entrenching collaborative leadership style within the interprofessional team. Moreover, an analysis of the need for organisations to apply effective interprofessional team practices such as the establishment and management of teams by employing Tuckman’s and Belbin’s models is evaluated. A reflection on the significance of employing a collaborative leadership approach in promoting interprofessional working is provided. The paper concludes by recommending the fundamental issues that Medway Teaching School and its partners should take into consideration in employing interprofessional work.
1.0 Introduction

 The UK government is committed to enhancing the country’s education sector by focusing on delivering quality education (Adnett & Davies 2003).  Subsequently, the UK has undertaken a number of national policy changes. One of the notable policy changes relates to the integration of the concept of interprofessional working as opposed to the traditional policy that was based on competition amongst learning institutions.  Haynes and Lynch (2013) emphasise that between 1997 and 2010, the UK education policy largely encouraged competition among different educational institutions.  However, the UK has over the recent past made changes in its approach to education by incorporating partnerships in an effort to enhance the country’s education standards (Haynes & Lynch 2013; Atkinson 2007).  The UK government is of the view that improving cooperation and collaboration will play a fundamental role in raising the country’s education achievement.  Higham and Yeomans (2010) assert that ‘partnership working between institutions and organisations is commonly considered as providing solutions to meeting multiple, interrelated needs in areas of social policy including health, social welfare, and education’ (p. 280).   Similarly, Rigg and O’Mahony (2013) are of the view that inter-organisational collaboration is aimed at resolving a problem or overcoming a situation that a single organisation cannot resolve.

 However, the success with which interprofesional working is operationalized in the education sector depends on how effectively the parties charged with the responsibility of promoting the country’s education standards through partnership working are knowledgeable on entrenching the fundamental aspects of the interprofessional working approach (Clarke 2006). McLaughlin (2013) defines interprofessional working to include an approach to work whereby ‘different professionals work closely together with shared goals and possibly interchangeable roles’ (p. 956). The concept of interprofessional working has led to the emergence of interprofessional teams. 

            The success with which interprofessional teams deliver positive outcomes to the target audience depends on the working relationship established between the different interprofessional. In an effort to improve its effectiveness in promoting learning, Medway Teaching School Alliance (MTSA) intends to partner with Cantebury Christ Church University and Local Schools. The partnership is aimed at delivering school direct programmes, such as teaching, and staff CPD.   One of the factors that have motivated a partnership working approach between MTSA and other local schools entails the need to improve the relevance of the student’s skills to the labour market needs (Haynes & Lynch 2013). The success with which partnership between the respective learning institutions achieves the intended outcome depends on the nature of the working relationship that is established.

According to Douglas (2008), multi-professional teams cannot rule out the likelihood of conflicts occurring. Chwastiak, Vanderlip, and Katon (2014 emphasize that the success of interprofessional working depends on the input of professionals from different disciplines. However, the likelihood of conflicts occurring under such circumstances cannot be ruled out.  The occurrence of conflicts significantly reduces the functionality of interprofessional teams.  Brown et al. (2010) assert that conflicts in interprofessional teams can arise at micro, macro, or meso levels. Therefore, it is imperative for the parties involved in actualising interprofessional or collaborative working to entrench the requisite managerial and leadership skills (Douglas 2008). This paper entails a critical analysis of conflicts as one of the major issues that limit the effectiveness of interprofessional working between the respective learning institutions hence negatively impacting the attainment of the intended outcome.   In line with this aspect, this paper evaluates how leadership and people management practices can be applied in the quest to overcome the conflicts that arise in employing interprofessional working.  

2.0 Background to collaboration in inter-professional working

According to Chwastiak,  Vanderlip, and Katon (2014), interprofessional working is based on the assumption that adopting a collaborative working approach increases the likelihood of achieving the intended outcome. Hunter and Perkins (2009) assert that interprofessional working results in added value because of the ‘joined-up working’ and ‘seamless service’.  Alternatively, Rigg and  O’Mahony (2013) assert that interprofessional working is based on the concept of ‘pooling’, resources, and human expertise. Interprofessional working results in better outcomes because of the interreprocity that arises from a collaboration between the respective organisations.  Moreover,  McLaughlin (2010) is of the opinion that interprofessional working is based on the coordination of job tasks across different stakeholders hence reducing the need to repeat tasks.  Alternatively, McLaughlin (2010) asserts that interprofessional working largely ‘focuses more on the service users and less on the process of workers working together’ (p. 962).  Thus, integrating a collaborative approach translates into improvement in service delivery.

 Interprofessional working further emphasizes eliminating the boundaries that exist between different professional roles and focusing on synergizing the various professional roles (Lank  2005). MacNaughton, Chreim and Bourgeault (2013) assert that boundaries between professional teams may limit interaction between the respective professionals hence affecting the accomplishment of different roles and responsibilities.  Through this approach, collaboration between different autonomous stakeholders is enhanced (Thomas, Pollard & Sellman 2014).

            The modern education sector is progressively adopting a collaborative working approach in an effort to deliver quality learning. Muijs (2015) affirms that the principle of collaboration among learning institutions is an effective school improvement method.  Collaboration can transform institutions into high-performing entities.  Brown et al. (2010) are of the view that the effectiveness of interprofessional teams depends on the contribution of different parties.  In employing interprofessional working, MTSA, and its partners should focus on enhancing a number of aspects that include information exchange, adjustment of the respective learning institutions’ learning approach and activities, and sharing of resources in order to promote synergy between the respective institutions (Davis & Gustafson  2014). To strengthen collaboration with the respective learning institutions, MTSA  should consider nurturing a strong connection, effective information sharing, and coordination. Pollard (2011) accentuates that inter-agency collaborative working demands the respective organisations to work across set organisational boundaries. Rigg and O’Mahoney  (2013) assert that organisational boundaries can arise from differences in missions, capacity, accountability, and responsibility.

 In spite of the collaborative advantages associated with interprofessional working,   the organisations intending to apply partnership working might fail to achieve the intended outcome. This outcome might arise if the existence of conflicts within and between interprofessional team members is likely to reduce the functionality of interprofessional working (McMurtry,  Rohse & Kilgour 2016).  This aspect is underlined by Mitchell et al. (2015) who emphasize that the benefits that organizations attain from interprofessional teams can be limited by the prevalence of hostility, friction, and poor performance amongst interprofessional team members. The occurrence of conflicts can hinder the implementation of an effective learning approach (Sanaghan & Gabriel 2011).  Thus, the need to integrate effective people management practices cannot be underestimated. The purpose to incorporate people management practices is to foster inclusiveness in interprofessional working hence reducing conflicts. 

2.1  Review of Themes of Leadership and Culture in Relation to Collaboration

In order to succeed in entrenching interprofessional working, it is imperative for stakeholders in the education sector to take into consideration the requisite elements that will foster collaboration. According to Carlton et al.  (2012), the success with which interprofessional working is entrenched within organisations’ setting is influenced by the integration of three main elements that include process, structure, and culture.  

2.2 Culture

According to Goodman and Clemow (2010), culture is comprised of different aspects that include the shared values, beliefs and attitudes, behavior, and norms that guide activities within a particular group This view is further supported by  Billet (2014) who affirms that ‘interprofessional work is premised on high levels of shared understandings or intersubjectivity among those who are co-working (p. 207).  Organisation’s culture is depicted by different aspects such as the systems, structures, processes, and artefacts (Rigg & O’Mahony 2013).  Organisations are characterised by distinct cultures. An organisation’s commitment towards the respective components of the cultural web may play a fundamental role in determining the success with which an organisation succeeds by achieving a competitive advantage.  Walsh and  Kahn (2009) assert that changing an organisation’s culture presents a considerably challenging task.  Thus, parties intending to work collaboratively must appreciate the importance of establishing a link between their respective cultures.   

In order to promote collaborative working, it is essential for organisations intending to partner in achieving a predetermined goal to consider undertaking a comprehensive mapping of the organisational culture elements (Petch,  Cook  & Miller  2013). Mapping the different elements of organisational culture is critical in determining the cultural aspects that are likely to hinder interprofessional work.     

According to Johns (2002), the prevalence of cultural differences might affect interprofessional working due to a lack of cohesion in undertaking the assigned group roles and responsibilities.  To promote interprofessional working, it is imperative for MTSA and the other stakeholders intending to partner in enhancing learning in the UK to consider establishing a balance between their respective cultures. Failure to promote a balance might adversely affect the efficacy with which the respective institutions achieve synergy in promoting learning.  Jonathan (2010) accentuates that the development of a shared culture fosters connectedness amongst the respective stakeholders.   The success of interprofessional team is influenced by the commitment of the respective team members to adhere to the stipulated norms (Yuki & Brewer 2009).  The rationale of integrating norms is to promote the emergence of a shared culture, which ultimately influences the attainment of the desired synergy (Yuki & Brewer 2009).  Jonathann (2010) accentuates that shared culture stimulates the effectiveness with which team roles are effectively undertaken.  This arises from the fact that organisations are able to establish a cross-functional team. 

The norms are outlined by the code of conduct that stakeholders working collaboratively are required to adhere to. Alternatively, the norms may be an aspect that the respective team members have developed from experiences arising from their daily activities. The norms stipulate what is acceptable or not in the interprofessional working environment. Failure to adhere to the stipulated norms may result in the imposition of sanctions on the individual in an effort to compel the party to act in accordance with the stipulated norms.

Interprofessional working is further dependent on the extent to which parties from different professional backgrounds adhere to the stipulated values, which entails the judgement on whether something is of importance or worth (Goodman & Clemow  2010). One of the critical values in interprofessional working entails entrenching ethics in the process of working collaboratively. Additionally, working collaboratively is influenced by the beliefs held by the respective stakeholders. Goodman and Clemow (2010) assert that the beliefs held determine the opinion and attitudes that stakeholders develop hence determining their commitment to undertaking the assigned role and responsibilities. Conversely, interprofessional working is influenced by the professionals’ attitude, which according to Goodman and Clemow (2010) entails the ‘ disposition or tendency to respond positively or negatively towards ideas, opinions, people and or situations’  (p. 242).  Interprofessional working requires the stakeholders to be effective in dealing with the attitude of the respective team members.

2.3 Structure

One of the key dynamics that MTSA should take into account in integrating interprofessional working with the other learning institutions entails the structure adopted. According to Jindal-Snape and Hannah (2014), interprofessional work is based on the concept of teamwork. Thus, the respective parties to interprofessional work must take into account a management structure that allows the respective parties to work inter-professionally. The rationale for adopting a teamwork structure is based on the fact that the respective professionals are required to work collaboratively. Thus,  the management teams at Medway Teaching School Alliance (MTSA), Cantebury Christ Church University, and the local schools are obliged to integrate a management structure that creates room for internal and external collaboration and teamwork.

2.4 Processes

In addition to the above issues, interprofessional working is influenced by the processes entrenched in the organisations’ operations.  Hammick (2009) is of the view that interprofessional teams are characterised by ‘different purpose and their working processes will differ according to this purpose’ (p. 58).  However, to overcome this challenge, it is imperative for stakeholders to incorporate processes that enable the interprofessional teams to work as a system, which is emphasised by the collaborative theory (Glendinning, Powell & Rummery 2002).  The theory postulates the importance of nurturing effective communication, trust,  and leadership in order to promote inter-agency relationships (Beyerlein 2002).  For example,  stakeholders engaged in interprofessional work should focus on incorporating a seamless information-sharing process. Therefore, interprofessional working in organisations is based on the concept of socialisation, which is founded on the social capital theory. Muijs (2015) accentuates that ‘social capital theory takes a more instrumental view, stressing the ways networking allows organisations to harness resources held by other actors and increase the flow of information in a network’ (p. 564).   This move will lead to the attainment of synergy in the process of undertaking interprofessional roles and responsibilities (Trodd & Chivers 2011 ).




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