In the past thirty years, pharmacy has become increasingly more significant in the modern healthcare system (Denvir, & Brewer, 2014). The availability of medicine and medicine distribution has allowed pharmacy to become a lucrative profession. The number of pharmacists in the United States is expected to have a six percent increase from 2016 to 2026. Jude Ehizielen BSRRT, Pharm.D is a respiratory therapist who sought to become a pharmacist. He described his education to be a long, emotional, and rewarding journey that taught him what it is like to serve his community while being a member of an interprofessional healthcare team. To be a member on an interprofessional healthcare team Jude stated that individuals must learn that together everyone achieves more, there is an absolute need a clear line of communication, and everyone must be willing to acknowledge the common barriers in the work place.
While working at CVS pharmacy, Jude learned what being on a TEAM really means. It is an acronym that means together everyone achieves more. This is the number one benefit of working on an interprofessional healthcare team in his opinion. There are several partnerships in the healthcare industry so that one discipline does not hold all the control in patient care. Since the responsibility is distributed amongst healthcare teams, another benefit is that there are maximum resources and facilities (Löffler, Koudmani, Böhmer, Paschka, Höck, Drewelow, Stremme, Stahlhacke, Altiner, 2017). Some partnerships are pharmacist-physician, pharmacist-nurse, pharmacist-insurance, and pharmacist-patient relationships (Löffler et al., 2017). Jude stated how since these relationships focus on delivering the best health care to the community it is important for the providers to be patient centered instead of self-centered. Jude also explained how a team is more effective when all disciplines do not feel inferior when pharmacists assert themselves into treatment decisions. Pharmacists are there for their patients by offering recommendations on initiating or discontinuing medications, monitoring insurance coverages, and adjusting dosages if necessary (Denvir, & Brewer, 2014). He related this back to working in a hospital and encountering physicians who reject recommendations because they do not fully respect other disciplines and their valuable advice.
Interprofessional healthcare disciplines achieve more when they work as a team; however, there must be a clear line of communication. Jude stated that a benefit of working on an interprofessional healthcare team with a clear line of communication is seen when there is a clear, consistent goal for patient care. It is also seen when patients become active partners in their care plan (Löffler et al., 2017). When there is a clear line of communication pharmacists can safely do their legal responsibility to administer correct medication to patients (Denvir, & Brewer, 2014). A clear line of communication between pharmacists and patients allow patients to be active in their health care. Jude states that it is easier to give patient education when they have some familiarity with the medications from their nurses, primary care physicians, and any other physician they may have.
An interprofessional healthcare team can have limitations. Jude stated one situation he sees too often is a team that is too small or on the other extreme, a team that is too large. In teams like such, roles and leadership are often not understood. There is often ambiguity amongst the disciplines as to who has what responsibility. Jude gave examples of situations where the physician cannot be found or does not keep in contact as often as needed. Some more challenges are seen in gender, race, or class-based prejudice. The qualitative study, Perceptions of interprofessional collaboration of general practitioners and community pharmacists, talked about the negative encounters between physicians and pharmacists. A female pharmacist received verbal abuses as she tried to speak to a male physician; she needed to clarify potential pharmaceutical problems seen in unclear prescriptions (Denvir, & Brewer, 2014). This example also showed the lack of trust in the collaborative process.
An interprofessional healthcare team has its’ benefits and limitations. When all the disciples work as a team, there is a successful coordination of services. When the healthcare team has a clear, consistent goal for patient care, there are fewer medical errors, less medication errors, and better patient education. Ambiguity can be seen when a team is disorganized and there are no clear responsibilities amongst each discipline. The collaborative process is not easy but takes hard work, communication, and is successful when the patients’ best interest is kept in mind.