Nurse—doctor relationships in multidisciplinary teams: Ideal or real?


  • Philip J Warelow RPN RCHN FamPlan(Cert) AdolForenPsych(Cert) BNurs MNursS

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    1. Lecturer, School of Nursing, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia
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Philip J Warelow, School of Nursing, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria 3217, Australia.


This paper will examine the paradox of power differentials in multidisciplinary teams. The paper begins by offering multidisciplinary teams as an egalitarian enterprise in which all disciplines are included for their particular expertise in relation to patient care. By reviewing ways in which multidisciplinary teams are constructed it will be shown that in nursing discourse these teams are portrayed rhetorically in an idealized rather than realistic way and that there is clearly a power differential between disciplines. The examination highlights the socialized and stereotypical role adopted by the nurse and other disciplines within multidisciplinary teams, so that they fit the social role/rules allotted to them. Investigation of these roles suggest that masculine ideology has prevailed whereby the doctor assumes (without question) the role of team leader. The paper then moves to suggest dissatisfaction with this and that change is underway.