Working as a team is a crucial part of being a nurse. You know from day one that you’ll be working with other nurses, doctors, and members of staff at your facility. In fact, you probably got a lot of practice working as a team in nursing school with study groups. And while it can be difficult to have to work with a group of people instead of taking care of your own business, there are many reasons why teamwork is absolutely essential in nursing.
As a nurse, you are the backbone of the hospital and a major component to making sure patients receive the care that they need. But when it comes to making sure the patient receives everything they need in order to get better, you are probably aware that you simply can’t do it all.
For this reason, teamwork is critical; different members of the team have different specialties, skills, and knowledge bases. It’s as if every team member has a piece of a puzzle. The puzzle cannot be completed unless every member works together and gives their piece to the whole.
A good, functioning relationship between nurse and physician is the foundation of a good team. It is the doctor’s job to investigate, diagnose, and prescribe intervention. Nurses are responsible for making sure those interventions – medications, tests, scans, etc. – are carried out properly. If the communication breaks down, the nurse cannot properly fulfill her duty and help the patient. After initial treatment, there may be other treatment that is needed, so nurses need to be able to communicate with physical therapists, technicians, and others. Patient status should also be shared among the team. If all team members are on the same page, the patient is more likely to receive appropriate care.
While working as an interdisciplinary team, healthcare providers are increasing the probability that a patient will have a satisfactory outcome as a result of treatment. And because every individual is carrying out their own duties with the same goal in mind, the patient is receiving well-rounded care that ideally addresses all of the patient’s worries.
Furthermore, because there is quite literally a team of people working to serve one patient, there is a higher level of personalized care offered. When nurses, doctors, therapists, and others work as individuals rather than as a team, they will not have enough information to make sure the patient is receiving the correct care. A multidisciplinary team of professionals working with a common goal in mind, however, will ensure better outcomes for the patient.
If you’ve ever worked with a team, on a sport, group project, or even in a garage band, you know that a good team member is one who does their part and doesn’t slack off or blame others. Working as a team encourages personal accountability, meaning that team members are more likely to do their best and complete all their work. When they know that other people are relying on them for their part of the project (in this case, patient care), they’ll be more likely to follow through. When accountability suffers due to a sense of individualism in work, patient care suffers and morale as a whole is in danger of going down.
Though not strictly related to the success of the job, it is important to note that working as a team leads to higher job satisfaction. Nursing is infamous for being a high-stress profession. Combine long hours, sporadic schedules, to the inherently chaotic nature of the field and you have a perfect equation for fatigue and burnout.
However, The International Journal of Research in Medical Sciences recently published a study revealing that higher job satisfaction results in better care for patients. And interestingly enough, a study report by a human resource management group shows that working on a team increases job satisfaction. Not only will nurses working in a team be happier, but they’ll be better nurses as well.
High-stress jobs like nursing are known for suffering from high job turnover rates. This means that people are leaving the profession (or location) at a higher rate than in other places. However, in hospitals that place high levels of importance on teamwork, we see higher job satisfaction, as mentioned above. And when nurses and others are more satisfied with their work, they have less of a desire to leave their current workplace. This is beneficial for hospitals especially because they have to focus fewer resources on new hires and retraining. Keeping staff means that everyone can continue doing their job effectively without having to adjust to new team members.
In the end, it’s clear that working as a team is beneficial for hospitals and individuals. Individuals will see greatly improved job (and therefore life) satisfaction and hospitals will function smoothly and efficiently. It seems to turn out that it actually is true that no man (or woman) is an island!