In a healthcare environment, the professional, front-line staff members such as doctors and nurses are those staff members who interact directly with customers or the public, rather than with members of the organization. The latter is more typical of management. Although collaboration between nurses and doctors can itself be a problem, this is less likely to prove problematic than the relationship between professional staff members and management staff (Zwarenstein, 2000) Professional staff members, because they have extensive interaction with customers or the public, will invariably have a more patient-focused rather than cost-focused orientation than hospital management staff.
Also, in contrast to management, there are stronger time and resource pressures on the front-line environment in an immediate and personal way, than in a holistic and long-term fashion. Professional staff members are technically focused on doing the job for the day and helping patients, rather than helping the hospital-the pressures of patient health provide a more immediate focus.
Unlike management, the professional members of the staff have received a considerable amount of structured training as part of their previous, pre-organizational hands-on healthcare education. The hospital organization is legally liable for the actions of front-line staff, should mistakes regarding patient health be made, nor organizational business ‘health’-health care staff are health care professionals, not business people. (Robertson, 2003)
There is little team-based or project-based work in the front-line professional health care environment. Instead, the front-line typically performs the work specified by their profession and the needs of patients, reflecting any changes and initiatives implemented by management only when instructed. (Robertson, 2003) Cost of supplies, for example may be a greater concern for management than care for professional staff, and professionals may have less of a tolerance for bureaucracy and paper work, although certain concerns, such as time management may be shared by both.
Robertson, James. (2003) “Knowledge Management for Frontline Staff.” KM Management Website. Retrieved 18 May 2005 at http://www.steptwo.com.au/papers/kmc_frontline/
Zwarenstein M, Bryant W. (2000) “Interventions to promote collaboration between nurses and doctors.” The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. Issue 2.