5 Reasons Why Advanced Practice Providers Should Participate in Multidisciplinary Committees
Author/Editor Elizabeth Moran, MSN, RN, CPNP-PC
Author Karen Milovcich RN, BSN, MSN, CRNP, CRNA
The multidisciplinary model of care, with its emphasis on treating the whole person through the inclusion of a group of diverse healthcare experts, has long been recognized as advantageous to patient satisfaction and health outcomes . Moreover, recent research also shows that being a part of a multidisciplinary team also increases job satisfaction for healthcare providers . The term “multidisciplinary team” in healthcare typically refers to a range of experts across different professions who work together to provide holistic patient care. Physicians, physician assistants, nurses and nurse practitioners, psychologists and psychiatrists, social workers and mental health counselors, dieticians and nutritionists, occupational and physical therapists, researchers, and/or case managers collaborate to comprehensively meet the complex physical and socio-emotional needs of patients. The success of multidisciplinary teams has furthermore led to the creation of multidisciplinary committees. These committees are designed to address complex healthcare issues through the inclusion of diverse experiences, skills, training, and perspectives inherent in a multidisciplinary group of experts.
While all members of the healthcare team bring invaluable knowledge, we at Melnic believe that adequate representation of Nurse Practitioners (NPs) and Physician Assistants (PAs) [collectively known as Advanced Practice Providers (APPs)] on multidisciplinary committees is essential. We understand that a seat at the leadership table and involvement on committees helps to encourage and support career growth and leverages the skills and experience of our talented and bright clientele. As such, we’ve come up with five reasons why you may want to consider joining a multidisciplinary committee at your place of work:
- APPs are collaborative team players who bring a vast experience of clinical operational expertise to multidisciplinary committees.
APPs have a strong understanding of day-to-day workflow and are used to engaging in a teamwork approach through the collaboration of care with other members of the healthcare team . As such, the benefit of APP participation in discussions surrounding best practice execution within an institution’s organizational structure is indispensable. As an APP on a multidisciplinary committee, you can experience the satisfaction of leveraging your skills and experience through quality improvement projects, research, education, and leadership to impact the organization and patient care.
- APPs bring a unique perspective to healthcare.
APPs bring expertise to committees at all levels of the organization including committees focused on APPs, hospital-wide committees, clinic committees, and division committees. APPs can lead or participate in committees on policy and procedures, APP utilization, staffing related issues, quality of care solutions, operational efficiency, strategic planning, patient advocacy, budgets, education, patient satisfaction improvement projects, compliance, recruitment and retention, and many other topics. In addition to specific projects at the division level, APPs can also participate in committees at the highest leadership level of healthcare organizations, working side by side executive leaders.
Some organizations include hospital or clinic administrators, as well as physicians and nurses on multidisciplinary committees, but do not include APPs either because they report up to nursing leadership—which more commonly occurs for NPs than PAs—or physician leadership. All members of the healthcare team have invaluable knowledge and diversity of thought. As such, it is important to include the perspective of APPs. As an APP, you can impact your fellow APPs by participating on committees that need visibility into the effects of decisions on APPs, and being a window into the w institutional benefits from your expertise and efforts.
- Committee presence allows for more familiarity with the role and scope of the APP among all healthcare members.
Though the role of the APP is generally recognized and understood among healthcare workers, many still aren’t clear on the delineations of how APPs functions differently than nurses or physicians. Committee presence provides APPs the opportunity to both educate and share with others what APPs have to offer the healthcare team. When other members of the healthcare team are aware of the depth and scope of APP practice, everyone, including patients, benefits. Role clarity leads to higher team effectiveness and performance. 
- Presence at committee meetings allows another avenue for APPs to stand as patient advocates.
The model of training for NPs places particular emphasis on patient advocacy, though APPs across the board are often revered for this inherent trait. APPs have a deep understanding of both clinical and non-clinical needs to improve overall health and can also be present as advocates for these needs in multidisciplinary meetings.
- Multidisciplinary committee involvement can lead to career development and growth among APPs.
Multidisciplinary team membership allows others to witness firsthand the vast knowledge and skill set of APPs, even above and beyond clinical care. As needs change at institutions and new leadership roles need to be filled, APPs may be more likely to be considered for these promotions by having participated in conversations among other multidisciplinary team leads. For those who seek more of a balance between clinical and administrative duties, there may even be more long term benefits down the road.
Feeling inspired to join a committee at your institution? Consider talking with your supervisor at your next annual review, or scheduling a time even sooner. Prepare your reasoning (we’ve given you some pointers above, but the list goes on!) and explain why you feel it is important that APPs have a seat at the table in these forums. Emphasize how it will not only benefit your personal growth and development but also have a positive impact on the institution and patient care. Good luck!
- Epstein N. E. (2014). Multidisciplinary in-hospital teams improve patient outcomes: A review. Surgical neurology international, 5(Suppl 7), S295–S303. doi:10.4103/2152-7806.139612
- Leach, B., Morgan, P., Strand de Oliveira, J., Hull, S., Østbye, T., & Everett, C. (2017). Primary care multidisciplinary teams in practice: a qualitative study. BMC family practice, 18(1), 115. doi:10.1186/s12875-017-0701-6
- Donald, F., D. Bryant-Lukosius, R. Martin-Misener, S. Kaasalainen, K. Kilpatrick, N. Carter, P. Harbman, I. Bourgeault and A. DiCenso. 2010a. “Clinical Nurse Specialists and Nurse Practitioners: Title Confusion and Lack of Role Clarity.” Canadian Journal of Nursing Leadership 23(Special Issue December): 189–210.
Karen is a certified registered nurse anesthetist and a certified registered nurse practitioner. She has worked as an Advanced Pediatric Nurse Practitioner for more than 20 years.