Journal of General Internal Medicine

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 487–492 | Cite as

Interprofessional Collaboration: A Qualitative Study of Non-Physician Perspectives on Resident Competency

  • Mariposa Garth
  • Alexandra Millet
  • Emily Shearer
  • Sara Stafford
  • Sylvia Bereknyei Merrell
  • Janine Bruce
  • Erika Schillinger
  • Alistair Aaronson
  • David Svec
Original Research



The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) includes the ability to collaborate in an interprofessional team as a core professional activity that trainees should be able to complete on day 1 of residency (Med Sci Educ. 26:797–800, 2016). The training that medical students require in order to achieve this competency, however, is not well established (Med Sci Educ. 26:457–61, 2016), and few studies have examined non-physician healthcare professionals’ perspectives regarding resident physicians’ interprofessional skills.


This study aims to describe non-physicians’ views on barriers to collaboration with physicians, as well as factors that contribute to good collaborative relationships.


Nurses, social workers, case managers, dietitians, rehabilitation therapists, and pharmacists at one academic medical center, largely working in the inpatient setting.


A qualitative study design was employed. Data were collected from individual interviews and focus groups comprising non-physician healthcare professionals.

Key Results

Knowledge gaps identified as impeding interprofessional collaboration included inadequate understanding of current roles, potential roles, and processes for non-physician healthcare professionals. Specific physician behaviors that were identified as contributing to good collaborative relationships included mutual support such as backing up other team members and prioritizing multidisciplinary rounds, and communication including keeping team members informed, asking for their input, physicians explaining their rationale, and practicing joint problem-solving with non-physicians.


Discussion of how physician trainees can best learn to collaborate as members of an interprofessional team must include non-physician perspectives. Training designed to provide medical students and residents with a better understanding of non-physician roles and to enhance mutual support and communication skills may be critical in achieving the AAMC’s goals of making physicians effective members of interprofessional teams, and thus improving patient-centered care. We hope that medical educators will include these areas identified as important by non-physicians in targeted team training for their learners.


communication skills medical education nursing qualitative research shared decision-making interprofessional collaboration interprofessional education 



We would like to thank participating healthcare professionals at Stanford Health Care, as well as R.J. Sanchez and Alison Brauneis, who were integral to curriculum development. We are grateful for a grant from the Stanford Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, and support from Dean Prober and the Medical Scholars Program of the Stanford School of Medicine. This research was presented at the Western Group on Educational Affairs Regional Meeting and the Stanford Innovations in Medical Education Conference.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11606_2017_4238_MOESM1_ESM.docx (20 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 19 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society of General Internal Medicine 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mariposa Garth
    • 1
  • Alexandra Millet
    • 1
  • Emily Shearer
    • 1
  • Sara Stafford
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sylvia Bereknyei Merrell
    • 1
  • Janine Bruce
    • 1
  • Erika Schillinger
    • 1
    • 2
  • Alistair Aaronson
    • 1
    • 2
  • David Svec
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Stanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Stanford Health CarePalo AltoUSA

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