Intraprofessional collaboration between enrolled and registered nurses in the care of clinically deteriorating ward patients: A qualitative study

Published:April 26, 2021DOI:



      Nurses' role in vital signs monitoring places them in an ideal position to recognise and respond to clinical deterioration in general wards. However, enrolled nurses (ENs) and registered nurses (RNs) do not always work collaboratively, and this can lead to delays in recognition and escalation of clinical deterioration in general wards.


      The aim of the study was to explore the collaboration experiences between ENs and RNs in recognising and responding to clinical deterioration in general ward settings.


      A qualitative descriptive study involving 12 ENs and 11 RNs was conducted in a 1250-bed tertiary hospital in Singapore using semistructured interviews. Interviews were transcribed and thematically analysed.


      Three main themes emerged from the data analysis. The first, “reaching a collective understanding of patients' conditions’, identifies nursing shift handover as the primary method of obtaining patient information essential for ENs and RNs to work collaboratively to deliver safe patient care. However, the dissociation of ENs during the handover process created information gaps on patients at risk of clinical deterioration. The second, “role expectations of each other”, describes expectations that both groups of nurses had for each other's functions and responsibilities and the importance of mutual support in the nursing teamwork process. The third, “lacking in shared decision-making”, depicts a top-down approach in decision-making, wherein ENs were often not engaged in the decision-making process related to patient care.


      A less-than-optimal collaborative EN–RN relationship was observed in this study, which sometimes caused delays in recognising and responding to deteriorating ward patients. This study illuminates the need for intraprofessional learning opportunities in prelicensure nursing programmes and the workplace to foster effective EN–RN collaborative practice. Nurse managers and educators are instrumental in fostering EN–RN collaboration and providing ongoing education on nursing teamwork skills and competencies.


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