Healthcare is the fundamental industry of modern society which is responsible for the lives and well-being of individuals. Professionals are constantly exploring ways to improve the quality of provided care and the performance of the medical staff. Even though most people place most of the responsibility for the treatment on physicians, nurses play a significant role in developing efficient care and emotionally supporting patients. It is largely claimed that teamwork can help to improve the performance of individual nurses and the quality of care which is delivered to the patient. However, others believe that this strategy has a low impact in the long-term perspective. The following argumentative essay aims to prove that, in the nursing environment, teamwork plays an essential role in improving the performance of individual nurses. It can be measured in terms of patient well-being and the quality of care delivered to them.
Nursing practice is based on interpersonal and interprofessional interaction within the health care setting. Teamwork can be defined as “two or more nursing staff who work together to provide care and administrative tasks for a group of patients” (as cited in Goh, 2020, p. 3803). Insufficient cooperation is associated with lower quality of care provided. Moreover, poor teamwork is the main reason for missed care, which greatly reduces patient satisfaction. Nurses are extremely significant health workers, as they communicate the most with patients and provide favorable treatment outcomes. Thus, it is especially important to pay increased attention to the development of effective strategies for their most productive work.
First of all, the importance of researching, developing, and implementing teamwork strategies in nursing practice stems from the extensive evidence of its effectiveness. Goh et al. (2020) emphasize that “teamwork behaviors such as communication, backup, and collective orientation were found to be present in units with the least missed care” (p. 3803). The well-coordinated work of professionals on the basis of effective communication ensures the most holistic patient care. However, current trends in the division of labor prevailing in various industries hinder the development of proper strategies for teamwork in the health care system. An individual specialist cannot provide the patient with a full range of services in the course of treatment, which makes the nursing profession independent (Rosen et al., 2018). These professionals work with different skills and in a variety of fields, including medical, social, and psychological areas. Thus, the importance of teamwork for nurses is driven by the need to ensure the highest quality patient care, which one person cannot provide.
Teamwork is aimed at improving communication between nurses, which results in better and safer patient care. Rosen et al. (2018) report that in U.S. health care, the number of preventable deaths due to patient harm exceeds 250,000 annually (p. 434). The authors emphasize the fragmented nature of care delivery as the main reason for this situation. Communication problems in the team of nurses and doctors place the patient at a greater risk of complications or death. A clear distribution of roles, an increased level of trust, and an effective exchange of information allow the medical team to most accurately determine the causes of the disease, and develop and provide treatment. Moreover, providing more relevant information within the team will provide better analysis, which minimizes risks. Improved communication will also allow you to effectively resolve emerging conflicts and establish contact with the patient and his family, focusing on the best treatment result. Thus, coordination allows nurses to consolidate resources to provide better care and a high degree of safety.
Despite a number of advantages, one can argue that teamwork and a focus on advanced communication can hinder individual professional development. Welp et al. (2018) emphasize that “activities targeting individual development needs, such as mentoring or clinical supervision, can be linked to better perceived teamwork and performance” (p. 10). Individual professional development is certainly necessary to provide quality nursing care. However, within the team, in which a skilled leader is present and trustful communication is established, a specialist can also expand knowledge. Moreover, team members can turn to more experienced colleagues for advice in situations of difficulty. This exchange of experience makes it possible to acquire not only theoretical knowledge but also practical skills, which significantly accelerate the professional growth of a nurse. Moreover, being part of a team as a mentor offers leadership development opportunities for more experienced nurses.
Moreover, teamwork provides better outcomes not only for patients but also for healthcare professionals. Hospitals with more developed teamwork have “lower rates of workplace injuries and illness, experiences of workplace harassment and violence, as well as lower levels of staff intent to leave the organization” (Rosen et al., 2018). A more positive collective atmosphere provided by an increased level of communication results in a greater commitment and engagement of employees. Teams in which roles and responsibilities are assigned are also less likely to suffer from burnout and dissatisfaction. Kaiser & Westers (2017) report a clear correlation between teamwork and the current position satisfaction of nurses. Indeed, it is important for a nurse to show moral values not only in relation to patients but also to colleagues. More trusting relationships between employees can help reduce stress levels, which in turn has a positive effect on patient care. Thus, teamwork is the main way to establish effective contact between employees, which also ensures a comfortable working environment.
Effective communication also requires different skills and a high level of competence from nurses, which can become a barrier to establishing contact. Despite a clear understanding of roles and responsibilities, health care personnel may have difficulty working in a team. Conflicts arising from a mismatch of expectations from actions performed within a certain role can lead to insufficient attention to the needs of the patient (Goh et al., 2020). More experienced nurses can expect to perform basic duties from subordinates, whereas they can hope for help from a senior nurse since the team has common goals. Thus, teamwork can not only help workers to cooperate but also cause conflict and reduced productivity. However, the gradual development of communication and a more attentive attitude of team members to each other may negate this disadvantage. Moreover, in conflict situations, team members will be able to show leadership and decision-making skills, which will also have a positive effect on both personal and team performance.
In the context of resolving disagreements within the team, it is also necessary to consider the priority role of management and the leader. Above all, it is imperative to include nurses and other staff who are able to connect with the team. The main sources of conflicts are “divergences regarding patient care priority, the arrival of new professionals in the team, lack of trust, nonrecognition of the other’s work, and lack of collaboration inpatient assistance” (Souza et al., 2016, p. 645). Thus, regardless of the professional skills of nursing, disagreements can arise within the team based on more fundamental interpersonal relationships. In this case, the position of a skillful leader is extremely important, capable of distributing roles, motivating people, and eliminating conflicts that arise. Managers should pay close attention to analyzing the traits of a particular specialist in order to select the most suitable team for him. It is also important to focus on developing communication skills, as well as establishing trust among nurses in each other’s decisions and skills. Thus, not only internal but also external work with the team is necessary.
The basis of effective teamwork is the shared mental model, which is the most difficult to achieve. It is a structure of roles and responsibilities which define team relationships and must be clearly understood and accepted by team members (Kaiser & Westers, 2017). The shared mental model is responsible for providing assistance and support to the nurse by her colleagues, thus building a relationship of trust (Welp et al., 2018). Awareness of the situation and the desire to provide help in case of difficulty result in reflective thinking, which can turn an unfavorable situation into a preferable one. Such skills depend not only on the level of communication in the team but also on the ability of each of its members to reflect and objectively assess themselves and others. Thus, the nurse needs to focus not on the individual contribution to the patient’s care but on the result of collective efforts. In this regard, developing teamwork strategies in a nursing environment is the most challenging.
Thus, to increase productivity in nursing collaborations to provide better medical care, it is not enough to simply make highly skilled professionals work together. For effective implementation of teamwork strategies, resources are needed to support this direction with an emphasis on the managerial driver of change (Noce et al., 2020). Thus, it is necessary to systematically develop the prospects for collaborative work aimed at integrating not only nurses but also professionals from other medical fields. Currently, despite extensive evidence of the increased effectiveness of this approach for better patient care, there are few practical prerequisites for the widespread adoption of strategies. First of all, it is necessary to develop a management apparatus capable of organizing such work and maintaining a level of satisfaction with it.
Teamwork among nurses is now gaining more and more attention from researchers and workers themselves. The approach helps healthcare personnel provide safer and more holistic patient care. Moreover, teamwork ensures the professional and personal development of nurses. It is important to develop skills such as leadership and decision-making, as well as communication. The most important aspect of teamwork is the division of roles and responsibilities. However, while this division is widespread, it is often a source of conflict. At the present time, no practical strategies have been developed for implementing the approach. First of all, structural changes are needed, which will focus on the collaboration of nurses and other medical professionals. Teamwork implies not only a high level of professionalism and communication between nurses but also competent management. Currently, insufficient attention is paid to the development of specific psychological and social skills for such work, as well as to building an effective teamwork strategy.
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Kaiser, J. A., & Westers, J. B. (2018). Nursing teamwork in a health system: A multisite study. Journal of Nursing Management, 26(5), 555-562. Web.
Noce, L., Bracarense, C. F., Parreira, B., Simões, A., Chaves, L., & Goulart, B. (2020). Restrictive and driving factors for teamwork in primary health care. Bioscience Journal, 36(2), 672-680. Web.
Rosen, M. A., DiazGranados, D., Dietz, A. S., Benishek, L. E., Thompson, D., Pronovost, P. J., & Weaver, S. J. (2018). Teamwork in healthcare: Key discoveries enabling safer, high-quality care. American Psychologist, 73(4), 433–450. Web.
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Welp, A., Johnson, A., Nguyen, H., & Perry, L. (2018). The importance of reflecting on practice: How personal professional development activities affect perceived teamwork and performance. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 27(21-22), 3988-3999. Web.