Interprofessional communication in the emergency department: residents' perceptions and implications for medical education

Int J Med Educ. 2018 Oct 25;9:262-270. doi: 10.5116/ijme.5bb5.c111.


Objectives: Objectives of the current study were to: i) assess residents' perceptions of barriers and enablers of interprofessional (IP) communication based on experiences and observations in their clinical work environments, ii) investigate how residents were trained to work in IP collaborative practice, iii) collect residents' recommendations for training in IP communication to address current needs.

Methods: Focus group study including fourteen Emergency Medicine (EM) residents, who participated in four focus groups, facilitated by an independent moderator. Focus group interviews were audiotaped, transcribed verbatim, independently reviewed by the authors, and coded for emerging themes.

Results: Four themes of barriers and enablers to IP communication were identified: i) the clinical environment (high acuity; rapidly changing health care teams, work overload, electronic communications), ii) interpersonal relationships (hierarchy, (un)familiarity, mutual respect, feeling part of the team), iii) personal factors (fear, self-confidence, uncontrolled personal emotions, conflict management skills), and iv) training (or lack thereof). Residents indicated that IP communication was learned primarily through trial and error and observing other professionals but expressed a preference for formal training in IP communication.

Conclusions: Based on this pilot study, barriers to effective IP communication in the ED were inherent in the system and could be exacerbated by relational dynamics and a lack of formal training. Opportunities for both curricular interventions and systems changes were identified and are presented.

Keywords: interprofessional collaboration; interprofessional communication; patient safety; resident training.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clinical Competence
  • Communication Barriers
  • Communication*
  • Education, Medical* / methods
  • Education, Medical* / organization & administration
  • Education, Medical* / standards
  • Emergency Medicine / education*
  • Emergency Medicine / methods
  • Emergency Medicine / organization & administration
  • Emergency Medicine / standards
  • Emergency Service, Hospital* / organization & administration
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internship and Residency* / organization & administration
  • Internship and Residency* / standards
  • Interprofessional Relations*
  • Job Satisfaction
  • Male
  • Patient Care Team / organization & administration
  • Patient Care Team / standards
  • Perception*
  • Physicians / psychology
  • Pilot Projects
  • Students, Medical / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires