From the nurses' station to the health team hub: How can design promote interprofessional collaboration?

  • Gum L
  • Prideaux D
  • Sweet L
 et al. 
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Interprofessional practice implies that health professionals are able to contribute patient care in a collaborative environment. In this paper, it is argued that in a hospital the nurses' station is a form of symbolic power. The term could be reframed as a “health team hub,” which fosters a place for communication and interprofessional working. Studies have found that design of the Nurses' Station can impact on the walking distance of hospital staff, privacy for patients and staff, jeopardize patient confidentiality and access to resources. However, no studies have explored the implications of nurses' station design on interprofessional practice. A multi-site collective case study of three rural hospitals in South Australia explored the collaborative working culture of each hospital. Of the cultural concepts being studied, the physical design of nurses' stations and the general physical environment were found to have a major influence on an effective collaborative practice. Communication barriers were related to poor design, lack of space, frequent interruptions and a lack of privacy; the name “nurses' station” denotes the space as the primary domain of nurses rather than a workspace for the healthcare team. Immersive work spaces could encourage all members of the healthcare team to communicate more readily with one another to promote interprofessional collaboration.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Case study
  • Communication
  • Interprofessional collaboration

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