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Why is Effective Teamwork Valuable in Nursing?

Rohini Mohan
Without a fixed protocol, it would be next to impossible to ensure the smooth running of a hospital. Effective teamwork in nursing allows members of the team to coordinate with one another and complete all assigned tasks smoothly.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment for registered nurses is projected to grow by 15% between 2016 to 2026.
The healthcare sector has embraced teamwork in all aspects of its working. It has been recognized that nursing is not an individual effort. It requires effective teamwork to provide timely healthcare and ensure patient safety. Lack of teamwork and communication has been found to have caused several avoidable patient-related errors by healthcare providers.
Being a part of a team provides nurses with a support system that can enable them to achieve a common goal. As the scope of human errors is extremely high in the healthcare sector, it becomes imperative that decisions are taken after discussing critical issues with colleagues and physicians. Let's discuss why effective teamwork is so valuable in nursing.

Importance of Teamwork in Nursing

Patient is Given Priority

There may be instances when some team members do not agree on some things, or do not like each other. However, such personal differences are kept aside through team meetings and discussions.
Teamwork ensures that personal ambitions or insecurities do not come in the way of providing the best possible healthcare to patients. The safety and well-being of patients need to be given precedence over all other matters and interpersonal disputes.

Work is Accomplished Faster

The charge nurse, also known as the registered nurse (RN), is the one who leads the team, and is responsible for allocating fixed duties to each member of the nursing team. The delegation of responsibility ensures that each shift is handled efficiently, and all the work is completed on time.
Since every team member knows his/her duties, the scope of confusion or waiting for someone else to do the job does not arise. It also ensures that there is always someone willing to lend a helping hand in case one of the nurses is held up because of an emergency case. 
Teamwork ensures that the nurses work as one unit and treat night shifts with the same sense of urgency and priority as they do with day shifts. This way, the work from the morning shift does not pile onto the nurses managing the night shift. A similar attitude must be maintained by the nurses working in night shift towards their morning batch teammates.

Better Communication

Being a part of a team enables nurses to communicate better and discuss problems openly. Members can compare notes, evaluate health status of patients, discuss changes in medication, signs of improvement or deterioration, etc.
These team meetings need not be restricted among nurses alone, and can be branched out to involve physicians, hospitalists, and hospital management as well. Nurses are trained to explain the condition of patients in detail and in broader terms. 
However, physicians are trained to come straight to the point and require quick feedback about a patient's health status. This discrepancy in the nurse-physician communication can be resolved through team interactions, in order to ease the flow of communication and introduce more quality treatment as far as patients are concerned.

Reduces Scope of Errors

Since every crucial aspect of patient care is discussed with the team, the scope of making errors in administering treatment is greatly reduced.
In case one nurse is not skilled or confident enough to carry out a task, the RN can delegate the task to a better-qualified team nurse instead, at that time. All the while, the RN is accountable for the delegated task.
Through teamwork, nurses can assess each others strengths and weaknesses, and thus take on responsibilities which fit well with their area of medical interest. For example, if one nurse is better at handling the computer and maintaining records, she/he would be assigned a similar task in order to increase efficiency, job satisfaction, and output.

Prevents Burnout

Having a steady bunch of team members to rely on can make the tasking career of nursing a lot more manageable.
Nurses who work around the clock need to take washroom breaks whenever needed, and make time for taking their meal breaks too. This is where supportive team members come into the picture, wherein any one of them can act as a stand-in for the nurse taking a break.

Reduces Staff Departure

Long hours of working, being overburdened and job dissatisfaction are some major factors that result in attrition in nursing jobs. When tasks are delegated in a team, and the work burden of the nurses is reduced, it helps in preventing them from quitting their jobs.
Apart from improving the quality of care provided to patients, working as a team has helped nurses experience more job satisfaction, knowing that they have colleagues to depend upon.