If there is one skill that nurses all need to excel at, it’s teamwork. Teamwork is at the heart of everything a nurse does, and even when they are working alone, they still need to be mindful of the larger team.
Teamwork involves everything from creating care plans with other staff members, often doctors, to working with other nurses to ensure that patient care is highest. When done well, teamwork improves the patient’s care and reduces the chances of medical errors occurring. It also makes the entire hospital (or other healthcare facilities) work much more smoothly and efficiently.
Why is Teamwork and Collaboration in Nursing Important?
Teamwork and collaboration are a major part of nursing, and there are several reasons for this. Nurses are central to patient care, and if they are all working together in the right way, it becomes much easier to treat every patient. Other reasons why teamwork is vital to include:
- Better job satisfaction. When you work well in a team, you’ll find that your job as a nurse is much better. Your work will become easier (although not necessarily always easy) because you can share the workload. You’ll also be able to bounce ideas off your colleagues, and your stress levels will reduce when you have other staff with whom to share your workplace burdens. When everyone is working towards a common goal, your tasks and schedule will become much more balanced, and you’ll be a happier nurse overall.
- Better patient care. Although one nurse might be in charge of a particular patient throughout their shift because continuity of care is a significant aspect of nursing, that doesn’t mean no one else can help. In fact, it’s important that others do help. When healthcare professionals work together to treat patients and collaborate to ensure the utmost patient care, that care significantly improves; not only that, but there will be a consistency of care throughout every patient’s stay in the hospital.
- More efficient processes. One of the great things about teamwork is that everyone’s strengths are used to the best advantage. When working in a team, one can allocate work according to colleagues’ specialties and where their skills, expertise, and talents lie. This results in the most efficient processes because everyone will know exactly what to do and how to do it. Of course, this doesn’t mean that if you are personally weak in one area, you shouldn’t learn how to improve – you absolutely should – but delegating tasks according to strengths, experience, and qualifications in this way can be done without compromising patient care because each staff member’s talents are utilized so well within a team.
- Stronger professional connections. When you have a good teamwork mindset in your nursing profession, you can discover everything you need to know about your colleagues. You will learn who to ask about what, strengthening your professional connections. This could lead you to find a mentor or even become one.
Top 7 Ways to Improve Teamwork and Collaboration in Nursing:
With these benefits in mind, you can use several handy tips to help boost your teamwork and collaboration skills, which will enhance you professionally and the team dynamic at your workplace. As a nurse, if you can implement this advice and improve teamwork in your nursing workplace, you’ll find that your workload decreases, your patient care improves, and your job satisfaction increases. Read on to find out more.
1) Increase Communication:
Although teamwork is perhaps one of the most crucial skills a nurse needs to acquire, communication will certainly run a close second and may even be on par with good teamwork. Imagine a hospital setting in which the nursing staff does not communicate well; this would be terrifying for the patients and their families, who would not know what is happening nor what their treatment might be (or even what their diagnosis is in some cases). In this dire picture, patient care itself would be at extreme risk; if no nurse could communicate with any other healthcare professional about a treatment plan and information regarding the patient’s symptoms, he/she could miss vital points, and patients would suffer.
Obviously, communication is paramount in nursing. It needs to be considered and improved to bolster teamwork and collaboration. With augmented communication, your nursing team will work much more efficiently, and it will become far more dynamic, ensuring productivity and quality of care go hand in hand without compromise.
Here’s an intriguing exercise: take a step back and think about the level of communication taking place right now in your workplace. Is it good? Could it be improved? If there are any doubts, it could be that it’s time to implement new ways of communicating, or perhaps everyone needs a little extra training to remind them of why it’s such an important part of their job. Once you have evaluated the level of communication within your team, it will become much easier to assess exactly how to improve it in a way that not only helps patients but ensures nurses are happy too.
2) Be Transparent:
A team only works well if every team member is entirely transparent; in other words, they must be open and honest about any issues or points that might need to be brought up. The only way for a team to trust each member – which is crucial; just one weak link means the entire team starts to fall apart – is for everyone to share everything relevant to their work.
Holding anything back, even if you do it because you don’t want to cause a fuss or be problematic, can cause issues. When you are honest and open, you’ll be able to encourage better teamwork because everyone in the team will have the same level of knowledge and work towards the same goal, identifying and resolving issues together.
There are various methods to improve this element of your teamwork and collaboration in nursing. For example, you might want to set up a system wherein everyone comes together to go through patient notes. In this case, everyone is working together and can suggest ideas that the nurse caring for that patient may not have considered; this open and honest exchange of ideas can make a real difference.
Another way to be transparent is to ask questions. Although you may not like showing others that you lack knowledge or perhaps confidence in some areas, it’s crucial. To be honest, it’s the only way you’ll learn more and maintain excellent teamwork and patient care.
If you hide the fact that you don’t know something, people on your team will assume you do know it, which could endanger patients or make your job a lot harder. Be honest about your shortcomings and take the time to learn what you don’t know, and you’ll find that your job is much easier and more successful.
3) Clarify Roles:
Although you will be working in a team (and that usually means everyone is working in essentially the same way), it’s important to understand that there are still roles to be fulfilled and that everyone on that team will work in slightly different ways somewhat unique positions. If you want to have better teamwork as a nurse, it’s imperative that you clarify those roles to ensure that every aspect of the work is completed and nothing is duplicated. Everyone should be assigned tasks without any overlap, and, as mentioned, the better you know your team, the easier it will be to set the right jobs for the right people.
It’s also important to share the reasons for allocating roles. The more explanation you can provide, the more you can be certain that the tasks you are delegating are right. In addition, you should make sure assignments are always handed out fairly; it could cause problems if any team member feels they always get the boring or difficult jobs and they see someone else consistently receiving the easier or better tasks. Everyone in the team must be working together and happy – not just with their role but also with everyone else’s.
4) Promote Adaptability:
It’s true that having specific roles within a team is important and is a great way to increase teamwork and efficiency in nursing. Even if those roles change day by day since the patients you see and the conditions they have will vary. However, another way to ensure adequate teamwork is to promote adaptability. By promoting adaptability, you’ll ensure that everyone in your workforce can be as adaptable as possible and know just what to do when necessary – even when circumstances change, such as patient care, or perhaps when there’s an emergency to handle.
It’s true to say that the most adaptable nurses pay close attention to everything that is happening around them. They can give support to all patients and staff, and they have good problem-solving skills, which makes them better nurses.
If you want to improve your own or someone else’s adaptability, you can do this by watching how other people work and perhaps even shadowing them to learn how they change their working systems and mindsets. The more adaptable you are, the better it is for everyone.
5) Follow Up:
Nurses are extremely busy, and it can be too easy to say goodbye to a patient and never find out anything more about them. You might wonder if this is an issue, but in all honesty, it’s not such a big problem in most cases – nurses can simply move on to the next patient and keep working together in a team to deliver the best care they can give.
However, it’s good practice to offer some kind of follow-up in some instances. To begin with, for those patients who have been discharged or taken to another department. It’s superb for team morale to see how they are doing and to know that the work completed together in your department ensured that he/she could take the next steps, and the patient’s health has improved because of your and your colleague’s efforts.
Furthermore, following up is also useful when it comes to referrals and other additional healthcare needs; if you can take the initiative and follow up on your patients’ requirements and then update your team about the situation, this will show everyone how useful it is to check up on a patient and see the positive after-effects of their work. The knock-on effect of this is heightened teamwork because, again, you’re all working towards the same goals to help your patients to the best of your abilities and improve their health. Plus, following up on patient care has other benefits; it ensures the team stays organized and on track and helps you meet your objectives.
6) Complete Regular Training:
Training is an integral part of nursing. It all started when you looked into ABSN programs to begin your nursing career, but that should not be the end of it. Once you obtain your nursing degree, ongoing training is still important. It will bring about better teamwork in your nursing workplace.
When every member of the nursing team undertakes ongoing training – whether that’s formal training such as studying for another qualification, or much less formal or even self-led education, such as reading blogs and industry news – they can share much of the information they learn with the team, enabling everyone to be on the same page.
As well as this, training will help each colleague improve their own abilities and supply them with more knowledge. Enhanced skills and expertise allow them to become a much more adaptable and competent team member who can do more than they could before. Therefore, new skills, qualifications, knowledge, and adaptability will always be helpful and will considerably boost teamwork in a working environment.
7) Set an Example for Others:
When working as part of a nursing team, it’s essential to remember that people will be looking up to you and watching you, just as you observe other team members, to learn more and gain more experience. Therefore, it’s crucial to work hard and do things properly so that those using you as a role model can learn the right lessons in the proper ways.
In other words, you need to be a good example. It’s wise to assume that others are always taking note of the way you work and what you do and say, which means as a professional nurse, you should act accordingly. Overall, the better you can be, the better the team will be. With everyone using everyone else as inspiration, that should mean that everyone works in the best way they can.