7.3 Values and Ethics for Interprofessional Practice

The first IPEC competency is related to values and ethics and states, “Work with individuals of other professions to maintain a climate of mutual respect and shared values.”[1] See the box below for the components related to this competency. Notice how these interprofessional competencies are very similar to the Standards of Professional Performance established by the American Nurses Association related to Ethics, Advocacy, Respectful and Equitable Practice, Communication, and Collaboration.[2]

Components of IPEC’s Values/Ethics for Interprofessional Practice Competency[3] 

  • Place interests of clients and populations at the center of interprofessional health care delivery and population health programs and policies, with the goal of promoting health and health equity across the life span.
  • Respect the dignity and privacy of patients while maintaining confidentiality in the delivery of team-based care.
  • Embrace the cultural diversity and individual differences that characterize patients, populations, and the health team.
  • Respect the unique cultures, values, roles/responsibilities, and expertise of other health professions and the impact these factors can have on health outcomes.
  • Work in cooperation with those who receive care, those who provide care, and others who contribute to or support the delivery of prevention and health services and programs.
  • Develop a trusting relationship with patients, families, and other team members.
  • Demonstrate high standards of ethical conduct and quality of care in contributions to team-based care.
  • Manage ethical dilemmas specific to interprofessional patient/population-centered care situations.
  • Act with honesty and integrity in relationships with patients, families, communities, and other team members.
  • Maintain competence in one’s own profession appropriate to scope of practice.

Nursing, medical, and other health professional programs typically educate students in “silos” with few opportunities to collaboratively work together in the classroom or in clinical settings. However, after being hired for their first job, these graduates are thrown into complex clinical situations and expected to function as part of the team. One of the first steps in learning how to  function as part of an effective interprofessional team is to value each health care professional’s contribution to quality, patient-centered care. Mutual respect and trust are foundational to effective interprofessional working relationships for collaborative care delivery across the health professions. Collaborative care also honors the diversity reflected in the individual expertise each profession brings to care delivery.[4]

Cultural diversity is a term used to describe cultural differences among clients, family members, and health care team members. While it is useful to be aware of specific traits of a culture, it is just as important to understand that each individual is unique, and there are always variations in beliefs among individuals within a culture. Nurses should, therefore, refrain from making assumptions about the values and beliefs of members of specific cultural groups.[5] Instead, a better approach is recognizing that culture is not a static, uniform characteristic but instead realizing there is diversity within every culture and in every person. The American Nurses Association (ANA) defines cultural humility as, “A humble and respectful attitude toward individuals of other cultures that pushes one to challenge their own cultural biases, realize they cannot possibly know everything about other cultures, and approach learning about other cultures as a lifelong goal and process.”[6] It is imperative for nurses to integrate culturally responsive care into their nursing practice and interprofessional collaborative practice.

Read more about cultural diversity, cultural humility, and integrating culturally responsive care in the “Diverse Patients” chapter of Open RN Nursing Fundamentals, 2e.

Nurses value the expertise of interprofessional team members and integrate this expertise when providing patient-centered care. Some examples of valuing and integrating the expertise of interprofessional team members include the following:

  • A nurse is caring for a patient admitted with chronic heart failure to a medical-surgical unit. During the shift the patient’s breathing becomes more labored and the patient states, “My breathing feels worse today.” The nurse ensures the patient’s head of bed is elevated, oxygen is applied according to the provider orders, and the appropriate scheduled and PRN medications are administered, but the patient continues to complain of dyspnea. The nurse calls the respiratory therapist and requests a STAT consult. The respiratory therapist assesses the patient and recommends implementation of BiPAP therapy. The provider is notified and an order for BiPAP is received. The patient reports later in the shift the dyspnea is resolved with the BiPAP therapy.
  • A nurse is working in the Emergency Department when an adolescent patient arrives via ambulance experiencing a severe asthma attack. The paramedic provides a handoff report with the patient’s current vital signs, medications administered, and intravenous (IV) access established. The paramedic also provides information about the home environment, including information about vaping products and a cat in the adolescent’s bedroom. The nurse thanks the paramedic for sharing these observations and plans to use information about the home environment to provide patient education about asthma triggers and tobacco cessation after the patient has been stabilized.
  • A nurse is working in a long-term care environment with several assistive personnel (AP) who work closely with the residents providing personal cares and have excellent knowledge regarding their baseline status. Today, after helping Mrs. Smith with her morning bath, one of the APs tells the nurse, “Mrs. Smith doesn’t seem like herself today. She was very tired and kept falling asleep while I was talking to her, which is not her normal behavior.” The nurse immediately assesses Mrs. Smith and confirms her somnolescence and confirms her vital signs are within her normal range. The nurse reviews Mrs. Smith’s chart and notices that a new prescription for furosemide was started last month but no potassium supplements were ordered. The nurse notifies the provider of the patient’s change in status and receives an order for lab work including an electrolyte panel. The results indicate that Mrs. Smith’s potassium level has dropped to an abnormal level, which is the likely cause of her fatigue and somnolescence. The provider is notified, and an order is received for a potassium supplement. The nurse thanks the AP for recognizing and reporting Mrs. Smith’s change in status and successfully preventing a poor patient outcome such as a life-threatening cardiac dysrhythmia.

Effective patient-centered, interprofessional collaborative practice improves patient outcomes. View supplementary material and  reflective questions in the following box.[7]

View the “How does interprofessional collaboration impact care: The patient’s perspective?” video on YouTube regarding patients’ perspectives about the importance of interprofessional collaboration.

Read Ten Lessons in Collaboration. Although this is an older publication, it provides ten lessons to consider in collaborative relationships and practice. The discussion reflects many components of collaboration that have been integral to nursing practice in interprofessional teamwork and leadership.

Reflective Questions

  1. What is the difference between patient-centered care and disease-centered care?
  2. Why is it important for health professionals to collaborate?

  1. Interprofessional Education Collaborative. IPEC core competencies. https://www.ipecollaborative.org/ipec-core-competencies
  2. American Nurses Association. (2021). Nursing: Scope and standards of practice (4th ed.). American Nurses Association.
  3. Interprofessional Education Collaborative. IPEC core competencies. https://www.ipecollaborative.org/ipec-core-competencies
  4. Interprofessional Education Collaborative Expert Panel. (2011). Core competencies for interprofessional collaborative practice: Report on an expert panel. Interprofessional Education Collaborative. https://ipec.memberclicks.net/assets/2011-Original.pdf
  5. Interprofessional Education Collaborative Expert Panel. (2011). Core competencies for interprofessional collaborative practice: Report on an expert panel. Interprofessional Education Collaborative. https://ipec.memberclicks.net/assets/2011-Original.pdf
  6. American Nurses Association. (2021). Nursing: Scope and standards of practice (4th ed.). American Nurses Association.
  7. Leadership and Influencing Change in Nursing by Joan Wagner is licensed under CC BY 4.0


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