What Is Teamwork?

Teamwork is defined as the collaborative effort of a group to achieve a common goal. In health care, the goal is to improve the quality of life and outcomes for the patient. This is achieved as all the team members involved in the patient's care work together to provide the highest possible quality of care.

Sometimes you have to dig a little deeper or look at the situation from a different angle or perspective to see the success. It won't change the fact that it always hurts to lose a patient, but it will help to give you the strength to carry on and to help others in the same situation.

Even in situations where the patient dies, if the team members have coordinated their efforts to provide the best of care and to ease the pain and suffering of the patient and his loved ones, then the effort is successful. This is an example of a situation where the goal may not always include the patient getting better. But it doesn't mean that even for a few seconds, the quality of the life that hung on by a thread wasn't improved just a little. Did the patient die with dignity and were you there by his side?

Your Common Goal

Health care naturally lends itself to teamwork. There isn't a time when one individual is solely responsible for a patient's outcomes. There will always be at least the patient and one other health care team member. More often than not, there will be several team members. Together you will work toward one goal: improving the patient's quality of life and outcomes from a spell of illness by and promoting wellness.

Take time to get to know your teammates. Sometimes you will have to make the first move and other times someone will take you under her wing. In either case, if you learn a little about each person, you'll gain some insight into who they are and how they work. You won't like everyone, but if everyone is a team player, you'll be working together for a common goal and liking or not liking won't matter much. Strive to keep up your end of the bargain and stay focused.

As the new kid on the block, you're bound to feel a little out of place at first, but if you understand that you have a role as a team member and work toward this common team goal while providing the best possible care, you'll find your place.

Teamwork Give and Take

You can learn a lot from your coworkers through working on a team. Who is strong clinically? Who exhibits the best leadership and how? Who drives everyone crazy and why? Who is a weak team member or perhaps not a team player at all? How does management deal with them? Whether good, bad, or indifferent team members, you will take away valuable lessons for your own self-improvement.

Of course, teamwork always works best when everyone is a team player. There is no “I” in team; this means that as team members, you work collectively toward a common goal. If each person is working alone and for his or her individual stardom, you won't have a team. One person who is not a team player can spoil the effort for everyone else. This kind of person makes you want to work around him to virtually eliminate him. Sometimes that's just not possible and the spirit of the team is broken.

The team leader or unit manager sets the tone and is responsible for keeping the team intact. All team members have to be dedicated to the common goal as well. If someone isn't working out, the entire team needs to work toward pulling her in. But the team leader is ultimately responsible to support the team in doing this. Sometimes the team has to approach the team leader and bring its concerns about this member to her attention.

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