According to Wikipedia:

Competition is a contest between organisms, animals, individuals, groups, etc., for territory, a niche, or a location of resources, for resources and goods, mates, for prestige, recognition,awards, or group or social status, for leadership.


Collaboration is working with each other to do a task and to achieve shared goals.

Today’s blog post is about nursing and collaboration. The topic is hosted by two nurse innovators and collaborators themselves, with RNFMRadio rounding up the  nurse bloggers to share our wisdom, experience and expertise.

As a nurse entrepreneur I have had the pleasure of collaborating with Nurse Keith and Kevin Ross (RNFMRadio co-hosts) multiple times. We have collectively co-hosted several broadcasts on RNFM when promoting the RejuveNation Collaborations; I have guest blogged for RNFM many times; this past winter when RNFM held their inaugural Google Hangout, I was a part of that show.

So are nurses true collaborators

To be honest, when I read the Wikipedia description of competition, I hear ‘nursing‘. The definition reads: ‘A contest between groups for a location of resources. A contest for prestige, recognition, awards and leadership.’

Does our healthcare system create environments where nurses are competing for resources? Almost daily I receive an email from my own organization asking functional units to please release IV pumps as the central supply has a shortage. Units literally hoard their materials, worried about having enough.

Does our education system set us up for competition amongst ourselves? We all want to be the ‘best’ in our nursing education, recognized and awarded for our achievements. Does the clinical ladder breed natural born competitors who strive to outperform the next, in order to establish leadership roles and prestige?

While I do not admit to have the answers, I do believe that in terms of collaboration our walk must outweigh our talk. It is much more meaningful when we live collaboration. Our actions speak louder than our words and while a nurse can ‘say’ she/he is a collaborator I urge you to observe the behaviors that they model.

With four RejuveNation Collaborations, a print book of interviewed experts and the dozens of radio shows I have hosted- I’d say I know a thing or two about collaboration. And so, here are my fast five facts to successfully living and breathing collaboration in nursing:

  1. Release fear-based thinking. Collaboration is not about tit-for-tat. Just because you promote someone else you shouldn’t be expecting they do the same for you. And on the other side of the same coin, don’t withhold your own collaborative efforts because you don’t see someone lifting you and your work up. This is an extremely fear-based approach, a lack mentality that is common in nursing. Collaborate because you want to, not because you think you ought to.
  2. Protect your own self-care. Say ‘no’. If you don’t have the time to collaborate or help another nurse out, then say so. Avoid trying to be everything to everybody. This often presents you as nothing to nobody. You won’t miss out by saying ‘no’. In fact you open up the space for someone else who may fit better in the project on hand. Your collaborators will respect you more when you join in as the timing is right.
  3. Be You. Know yourself and your values. Engage in authentic projects that you believe in. Collaborate where it makes sense. There are billions of people on this planet and not every single one of them has to like you. When you are able to collaborate using nursing from within, it makes things that much easier and productive for all parties involved.
  4. It’s not about the numbers. In this case, quality is greater than quantity. Collaboration is about establishing, building and sustaining meaningful relationships. These collaborations in nursing can create lifelong friends. As mentioned in points 2 and 3, you don’t have to be ‘friends’ with everyone. You will be able to engage much more effectively in true collaboration (which takes time) when you grow lasting relationship.
  5. Enjoy yourself. If it starts to feel like work- it won’t get done. Collaboration should be about fun, upbeat energy that lifts you up. Collaborating with nurses is a really awesome gift. Enjoy it!

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment, reaction or question below. And in the spirit of true nursing collaboration, use the social media buttons below and share with your tribe. Thank you and enjoy the day.

Note: This post was written as part of the Nurse Blog Carnival. If you are interested in participating find out more details and sign up here.

Elizabeth Scala, MSN/MBA, RN

“I’m a Nurse, but I’m Not Sure I LOVE Nursing Anymore! Can You Help Me?”


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