Respect: An Essential Component for Successful Teams
by, 08-20-2010 at 02:31 PM (4905 Views)
I recently had the privilege of spending a day with a group of nurses at Kennedy Krieger
Institute in Baltimore, MD. Known for its groundbreaking work in treating children and adolescents with brain disorders, these nurses shared some amazing success stories. One particular story involved a young girl who had sustained life threatening injuries resulting from a traumatic fall. She arrived at Kennedy Krieger in a coma. Six months later the young patient had recovered to the point where she was able to walk and was discharged to her parent’s care. When asked the key to their success, the nurses responded “teamwork.”
The healthcare team at Kennedy Krieger is interdisciplinary. They evaluate every aspect of their patient’s life (medical, physical, psychosocial, and nursing) and a team of specialists work collaboratively to help these children reach their full potential. I believe their success is a result of team members, with clearly defined roles, respecting and trusting each other and communicating openly.
It’s no surprise that healthcare professionals are not good team players. After all, we are educated in silos, work within a hierarchical system, and are trained to be autonomous. We have struggled to become more team focused over the past few years and have made progress however; there is still room for improvement.
A 2008 survey of registered nurses by Buerhaus, Donelan, Desroches, and Hess asked nurses to rate the quality of their relationships with other healthcare personnel. Although nurses rated the quality of their relationships slightly lower in 2008 than in 2006, they again indicated they had better relationships with nurse colleagues than with physicians and others. When asked about their perceptions of respect, nurses indicated they felt more respected by other nurses than physicians.
Great groups, as Warren Bennis says, are able to accomplish so much more than talented people working individually. The healthcare workforce consists of many talented nurses, physicians, pharmacists, social workers, technicians, and others. Whether working with colleagues on a nursing care team or participating in an interdisciplinary group, we must understand and respect the unique contribution everyone contributes to the success of our mission. Working together toward a common vision we can improve patient outcomes.