Is teamwork in healthcare overrated? We often hear about the importance of teamwork during shift huddles—different people with unique roles striving together toward one goal, using the same plan of care. We talk to other staff including colleagues, nurses, and supervisors regarding patient matters. Everyone on the team is on the same page, communicating frequently, and sharing tools and equipment.
Why are teamwork and collaboration important to patient care? This is the big question, with big answers. Teamwork in patient care is important for a number of reasons:
With new technology and methods for delivering care, staff need to quickly learn new ways of doing things.
The increasing older population, and those with chronic diseases and multiple health problems, will require staff to work together to accomplish goals faster and more effectively than ever.
Teamwork prevents errors and improves patient safety.
When you learn to work on the same goals, there is less chance for burnout, less of the I-lead-you-follow mentality, and more of a we-can-do-this-together attitude.
You’re more motivated to carry out your tasks when working together as a team.
Most importantly, when patients and their family see staff working as a team, they feel more confident, at ease, and are more likely to cooperate with treatment. They tend to be vocal about their feelings, too!
If you want to be a team player and make a positive impact, these helpful tips are for you:
1. Learn respectful two-way communication.
How good are you at listening? Half of receiving and giving messages is being able to keep an open mind about what is being said so you can give an appropriate reply. It's important to listen properly and have the confidence to speak your mind. As a caregiver, you stay with the patient most of the day and likely have a great deal of input for other members of the healthcare team.
Also, if you’re not sure about something, don’t be too shy to ask, especially if the matter concerns patient safety. Stay respectful and you’ll both better understand others and be better understood.
2. Encourage patients to cooperate.
The patient is the center of the healthcare team. Without their cooperation and willingness to get better, even doctors have a hard time accomplishing goals. As a caregiver acting as the patient's companion, you can reach out and help motivate them to work with you and the rest of the staff.
3. Be sensitive to what still needs done and how you can help.
For caregivers, this tip might sting. With the piles of tasks at hand and time always running out, it seems impossible to lend a hand to someone else. But learning to maximize each other's skills and expertise can make you accomplish more as a team in no time.
4. Follow the care plan.
Because the care plan is a reflection of the healthcare team’s collaboration, following the plan and being open to discussing matters relevant to it is a great way to be a team player.
5. Follow the rules.
In teams, there are certain rules that members agree to follow in order to avoid errors and conflicts among staff. Be sure to keep up your end of the bargain.
6. Make other team members feel that they belong.
You may sense that a newly hired nursing assistant is having a hard time getting comfortable working with the other staff. Why not step in and include them in conversations? Even better, offer your direct assistance.
7. Recognize team and individual achievements, however small.
If you notice that a colleague battling personal problems still manages a smile and is kind to their patients, recognize their sincerity and hard work (and see if you can lend a hand or help cheer them up).
Teamwork is essential to achieving the outcome in a patient’s best interest. Be willing to contribute, support others, and motivate patients because it is the only way to accomplish team goals!
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