A wide range of terms are used to describe collaborative working arrangements between professionals. Terms such as interdisciplinary, interprofessional, multiprofessional, and multidisciplinary are often used interchangeably to refer to both different types of teams and different processes within them. They are also often used in conjunction with the term team work. However, there are some consistent distinctions that are useful to understand. The terms inter/multi-professional are generally narrower than the terms inter/multi-disciplinary and refer to teams consisting exclusively of professionals from different professions or disciplines, or at least to the relationships between professionals in teams that may also include other non-professional staff.
Teamwork is more than just sharing goals and updating colleagues on progress. Teamwork is about candour and collegiality, it is about an equal exchange and a shared benefit, and it is about a reciprocal relationship where learning is paramount and where there is no single “expert.” Teamwork may be described as a feeling as much as an action.
It is no secret that some teams work better than others, but what is it about these teams that sets them apart?
Interdisciplinary teamwork is a type of work which involves different health and/or social professions who share a team identity and work closely together in an integrated and independent manner to solve problems and deliver services. A unique feature about this form of work involves sharing a team identity with joint problem solving and service delivery, which is in contrast to teams that come together regularly to provide services but have not established a shared vision.