Teamwork in nursing seems like a necessary ingredient for success. In fact, it feels like a quintessential attribute for nurses, given their primary role in caring for patients.
The Journal of Advanced Nursing stated that, internationally, teamwork is the dominant philosophy underpinning contemporary healthcare. A scholarly article in the Journal of Nursing Management pointed out that the broad idea of workplace relationships — like supervisor-nurse relationships and teamwork — form an “anchor” for employees in organizations. In other words, workplace relationships facilitate the flow of information, resources, and support needed for nurses to be effective healthcare practitioners.
The authors found that supervisor-nurse relationships, teamwork and well-being explain almost half of nurses’ commitment to their hospitals, along with the same amount of their intentions to leave their hospitals. Since the preliminary costs of nurse turnover alone can be as much as double that of a nurse’s annual salary, the article called for management to focus on improving the quality of workplace relationships.
However, turnover is only part of the equation when it comes to nursing teamwork. Effective teamwork in nursing has several additional implications.
Why is Teamwork Important in Nursing?
Teamwork is a “a dynamic process involving two or more healthcare professionals with complementary backgrounds and skills, sharing common health goals and exercising concerted physical and mental effort in assessing, planning, or evaluating patient care,” according to the Journal of Advanced Nursing.
Effective teamwork in nursing impacts clinical performance. A systematic literature review published in the British Journal of Anaesthesia looked at 28 studies to observe whether team processes in healthcare have a clinical effect. “Every study reported at least one significant relationship between team processes or an intervention and performance,” the authors found. They added how the studies were highly diverse in the team processes studied, as well as in the methods used to study those processes.
Another study focused on team training. Journal of Nursing Care Quality used TeamSTEPPS, a teamwork tool to enhance performance and patient safety, to address the prevention of falls among patients. Then the authors set up an intervention and test group to collect information around questionnaires, behavioral observations, and data of falls that occurred over a period of nine months. The intervention group experienced a 60% reduction in falls, suggesting that team training can lead to fewer of these incidents.
Overall, the benefits for strong teamwork in nursing are well-documented, according to a separate study in the Journal of Nursing Management. Client care and outcomes improve. Professional growth, job satisfaction, and positive organizational outcomes improve as well. But “synergy is the primary outcome of exceptional teamwork,” the authors concluded. “Synergy occurs when a team’s output exceeds what can be accomplished individually.”
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The study discovered an unfortunate dynamic in nursing teams — they lack goal orientation toward synergy. “In nursing and healthcare it is agreed that patient well‐being, safety and ‘patient‐centered care’ is a mutual, widely accepted and valued goal among team members,” they wrote. “While paramount, this concept is nebulous.”
How to Promote Effective Teamwork in Nursing
The difference between effective teamwork in nursing and the opposite are clear. “When colleagues have meaningful interactions, trust between them grows such that they are prepared to help one another during busy times in addition to providing knowledge and support when needed,” according to the Journal of Nursing Management’s study mentioned above. “In contrast, poor workplace relationships are characterized by nurses working in isolated silos, becoming frustrated and overwhelmed during periods of high demand, with resultant negative impact on patient outcomes.”
Nursing teams need the goal orientation toward synergy and a high level of teamwork. How can they achieve that objective? It’s only possible through intentional attention to teams and team building, authors in the Journal of Nursing Management said. There are some ways for leaders to promote effective teamwork in nursing.
- Individual and team competency training can develop nursing teamwork. Training methods like TeamSTEPPS mentioned earlier have demonstrated positive results.
- Unit-based teambuilding interventions related to work expectations, nursing communication, decision-making, and conflict resolution can promote effective teamwork in nursing.
- Modifying tasks, workflow, or structure can enhance teamwork. Once leaders discover conditions that naturally lead to team-based work, they can redesign accordingly to create interdependencies.
- Reducing the size of a hospital unit has been found to impact teamwork. That’s in contrast to the common staffing practice of scheduling employees that doesn’t often account for factors other than cost and coverage, which can inhibit teamwork.
- Developing a model of team performance should be done with regard to the specific setting. Authors in the Journal of Nursing Management called for models of team performance in acute and continuing care to help create a scientific understanding of what compromises effective teamwork in those settings. The same thing can be said for any given team in terms of which type of care is provided and the unique aspects of that team.
Leaders can examine additional strategies to build a team that is more effective and happier together than when they are apart. Anything that leads to better nursing teamwork can have a positive influence. According to the Journal of Advanced Nursing, promoting teamwork and collaboration in nursing involves shared goals, open communication, information sharing, and role clarity.
Nursing leaders who can make progress in those areas can impact nursing teamwork. Therefore, patient outcomes, nurses’ professional growth and their job satisfaction, as well as other organizational benefits improve as well. You can develop the skills to become a better nurse and enter leadership roles. Southeastern University’s online RN to BSN program lets you accomplish your career goals without interfering with your busy schedule. Gain the knowledge and skills you need to provide better patient care, pursue specialties, and move into management roles.