5 Ways to Promote Teamwork in Nursing at Your Facility

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Written by Alexa Davidson, MSN, RN Content Writer, IntelyCare
Three nurses sitting on a bench and talking to one another

At your healthcare facility, patients’ lives are in the hands of the clinical team. A dedicated nursing staff keeps the wheels turning 24 hours a day, overseeing patient throughput and the delivery of high-quality care. At the center of an efficient healthcare operation is a foundation of teamwork in nursing fueled by a commitment to patient-centered care.

Read about ways healthcare leaders can create an environment that fosters teamwork and keeps patient outcomes the top priority. We share five ways to promote teamwork within a nursing team today.

What Is Teamwork in Nursing?

Nurses are expected to work autonomously by applying their professional knowledge to guide decision-making in patient care. Although they have the education and training to make critical clinical decisions, it doesn’t mean nurses always function independently. In fact, it’s essential for nurses to work together within a team to accomplish goals for each patient. On a given shift, teamwork may look like many things, but here are some examples of teamwork in nursing:

  • a CNA meets an RN in a patient room every two hours to assist with turns on a bedbound patient
  • an RN delegates a task to an LPN
  • a nurse answers the call bell and fulfills a request for another nurse’s patient
  • the charge nurse helps with an admission while the primary nurse gets the patient stabilized

The Importance of Teamwork and Collaboration in Healthcare

Teamwork in the healthcare setting allows clinicians to share information and meet goals related to patient care. To work together effectively, team members must have clear lines of communication — otherwise, patient care can be compromised. A study by the Joint Commission found that 80% of serious medical errors were the result of miscommunication during nursing handoff. Adverse events included things like:

  • falls
  • medication errors
  • treatment delays
  • wrong site, wrong procedure, or wrong-patient surgeries

5 Ways to Promote Teamwork in Nursing Today

There are many ways to promote teamwork in healthcare, including open communication, collaboration, and mutual respect. Below are five ways that nurse leaders can promote teamwork and foster a collaborative environment that will ultimately lead to improved patient outcomes.

1. Create a Healthy Work Culture

An important way to promote teamwork in your facility is to create a company culture that allows nurses to work together and communicate effectively. This starts by building a strong leadership team that understands the challenges of everyday nursing.

Take a moment to reflect on the culture within your organization, specifically as it relates to teamwork. Is it frowned upon for nurses to respond to patient needs outside of their assignment? Consider how your organization can promote a just culture that makes nurses comfortable lending a hand without fear of repercussions.

Example: A nurse responds to a beeping IV pump in a patient’s room outside of their assignment and replaces fluids before they run out. The primary nurse expresses gratitude and helps another nurse in a similar way later that shift.

2. Establish Roles and Responsibilities

Many healthcare facilities utilize a team nursing model where nursing care is divided at a unit level. Typically, an RN oversees multiple patients, and care is delivered with the assistance of licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and unlicensed assistive personnel (UAPs). This model is beneficial for facilities with shortages of RNs — but for it to work, everyone needs to know the expectations of their role.

Whichever staffing model your facility uses, every care team member should have a clear understanding of one another’s roles and responsibilities. Healthcare leaders should educate staff about the expectations for each type of team member, licensed or unlicensed, such as the duties within their scope. Teamwork is effortless when there’s a culture of respect throughout an organization, from top leaders to direct care staff.

Example: A manager approaches an RN about staying late to chart after every shift. It’s identified that the nurse can be delegating tasks like medication administration to LPNs. After learning the tasks within the LPN’s scope, the RN has more time to complete charting while on shift and can now avoid staying late.

3. Update Communication Platforms

The technology within a healthcare organization can make a significant difference in communication among healthcare team members. Having updated technology that drives communication allows healthcare providers to reach one another and share important patient information, especially in an emergency. Relying on antiquated systems like faxing and paging can mean the difference in life or death.

Healthcare leaders should consider updating their facility’s systems to better allow communication between healthcare providers. For example, facilities can provide nurses with mobile phones that have integrated HIPAA-compliant text messaging platforms.

Example: A nurse dons an isolation gown and mask before entering a patient’s room, only to discover a dirty diaper that has leaked through the bedsheets. Rather than doffing PPE to go ask for help, the nurse sends out a group text to the unit staff and a few team members arrive.

4. Apply Shared Governance

Shared governance is a professional practice model that allows nurses to be involved in decision-making that affects their nursing practice. Healthcare organizations that incorporate shared governance outperform other facilities in areas including:

  • nurse retention
  • job satisfaction
  • performance
  • profitability

Leaders can apply shared governance by creating practice councils where nurses can participate in decisions, such as policy creation driven by evidence-based research. Practice councils promote teamwork by allowing nurses to collaborate with healthcare leaders and their nurse colleagues. This helps nurses discover their coworkers’ strengths outside of the clinical setting.

Example: A practice council is formed to reduce unplanned extubations in the NICU. At a council meeting, a new graduate nurse presents a creative solution to a problem. Unit leaders recognize this and begin offering the nurse more professional growth opportunities like higher acuity patient assignments.

5. Identify Shared Experiences

Mutual respect among all members of the healthcare team is necessary for teamwork. By recognizing each other’s strengths and weaknesses, nurses can work together for the common goal of providing best-practice care. Healthcare leaders can promote mutual respect by giving nurses time away from the bedside to attend educational classes or workshops that focus on team building and collaboration.

Nurse managers may also incorporate team-building exercises at staff meetings that allow nurses to identify commonalities with one another. By identifying shared experiences, nurses are able to understand one another on a more personal level and are more willing to have open communication at the bedside.

Example: At a staff meeting, nurses participate in an activity where they name an experience from a past job, and two nurses identify they served in the military. The shared experience deepens their mutual respect for one another at the bedside.

Build a Team of High-Quality Nurses Now

Fostering teamwork in nursing starts with investing in high-quality nurses. Learn more ways to build a team of strong nursing professionals when you sign up for IntelyCare’s free newsletter. We share tips that put your patients in the best hands — and your organization ahead of its competition.