How teamwork in nursing can improve patient care


Collaboration is essential for delivering quality healthcare and maintaining high standards in nursing. As numerous nursing professionals, from certified assistants to licensed, registered, and advanced practice nurses, collaborate closely with physicians and other healthcare experts, teams have become a prevalent element of the practice.

A nurse’s understanding of what comprises a strong team and how effectively it can improve patient care can be significant in their participation as an influential team member. This article will explore the dynamics of nursing teams and their contributions to enhancing the quality of healthcare delivery.

What is a nursing team?

A nursing team refers to a group of healthcare professionals within the nursing field who work together to provide comprehensive patient care and support. Often, these teams consist of individuals with varying education, training, and specialization levels, all contributing their expertise to ensure patients’ wellbeing and recovery.

Like in most workplace groups, a nursing team typically has a designated leader or nurse manager overseeing and coordinating the team’s activities. The qualities of a nurse leader in a team are essential for driving positive patient outcomes and elevating the healthcare standard. Nursing courses that train individuals for a career in nursing, such as the nursing courses at Walsh University, will nurture students to develop these qualities.

Other members of a nursing team can include certified nursing assistants (CNAs), licensed practical nurses (LPN), registered nurses (RNs), advanced practice nurses (APNs), nurse educators, and specialized nurses. The presence of a nurse leader is not an absolute requirement and can vary depending on the context, group size, healthcare setting, and the tasks being performed.

Importance of teamwork in improving patient care

Delivering exceptional care in the complex landscape of modern healthcare highlights the need for seamless collaboration within multidisciplinary teams. At the core of this collaboration is teamwork, a workforce element that amplifies each member’s impact on patient wellbeing. But what exactly are the ways a strong team enhances patient care? This section underscores the factors that position teamwork as pivotal in fostering superior patient care.

Expertise and skill set

A strong nursing team features professionals with a wide range of clinical skills, knowledge bases, and experiences. This extensive competency enables the team to perform precise healthcare processes effectively. These processes may include assessing patients, monitoring conditions, administering medications, and executing diverse medical procedures skillfully. The high expertise level featured in a nursing team also ensures that patients receive the quick and tailored medical care that their circumstances demand.

Holistic healthcare

A holistic approach to healthcare involves providing comprehensive support and care to patients that addresses their physical injuries, system-related illnesses, and psychological and mental health. Recent studies have shown how effective holistic healthcare can be in preventing and treating diseases, and with a solid team, this approach becomes more feasible.

In a team approach, the patient is every team member’s primary focus and responsibility. As a nursing team features individuals with varying levels of education, training, and specialization, each member is responsible for specific aspects of health delivery. This includes professionals for assessments, physical care, emotional and psychosocial support, spiritual care, education, pain management, cultural sensitivity, and many more.

Effective communication and collaboration

A smooth and effective patient care process relies on communication and collaboration, ensuring patients receive the proper care at the right time. Medical professionals tend to make better decisions when they have access to clear and timely information across different departments.

Furthermore, members of a nursing team sometimes represent different healthcare departments, from critical care to oncology, gerontology, mental health, and more. When these departments collaborate effectively, they can achieve better results and avoid redundancies, delays, and errors. Effective communication and collaboration ensure that all aspects of a patient’s condition are considered, leading to coordinated and personalized care.

Patient advocacy

A key responsibility of nurses is to act as patient advocates, working diligently to safeguard patients’ rights, uphold their individual preferences, and facilitate the delivery of optimal and unparalleled care. This responsibility has proven effective in improving patient satisfaction and healthcare standards.

In some areas of healthcare, the concept of patient advocacy is not clearly conceptualized. As such, there is a gap between ideal advocacy strategies and the reality of practice, particularly among individual nurses. However, the collaborative nature of a nursing team makes patient advocacy more prevalent, with multiple nurses combining their expertise, insights, and perspectives to uphold the rights and preferences of patients.

Early detection and prevention

Part of nursing training is learning to recognize subtle changes in a patient’s condition. Detecting potential complications on time allows for quick interventions and prevents medical issues from worsening. However, there is a possibility for nurses, like any healthcare professional, to miss early detection due to human error, varied presentation, large workloads, lack of awareness, and incomplete information.

While there is a likelihood for nurses to miss early detection, the possibility is significantly reduced when working in a team. Nursing teams mitigate this risk by taking several proactive steps to enhance patient safety. These steps include standardized protocols and checklists, interdisciplinary collaboration, effective communication, regular assessments, supervision, research, and evidence-based practice.

Care continuity

Healthcare professionals, particularly nurses, must provide continuous monitoring and care, ensuring patients’ health needs are always met. According to a study, continuity of care has always been at the heart of general practice and remains essential in modern-day healthcare.

However, the lack of adequate nursing professionals has an obvious implication for realizing care continuity. Therefore, there is a need to balance patient assignments with nursing staff to avoid overwork and burnout. Strong nursing team management can achieve this balance, ensuring patient care is continuous, safe, efficient, and of a high quality.

Patient education

Nurses are pivotal in providing patients and their families with a comprehensive education on their medical conditions, treatment plans, and proficient self-care methodologies. By empowering patients with this information, a nursing team can help patients make informed choices and manage their health effectively. Understanding personalized aspects of healthcare can lead to better compliance with prescribed treatment plans and improved patient outcomes.

Quality improvement

Nursing teams frequently engage in enhancing healthcare quality by refining medical processes and optimizing patient care protocols. Nurses leverage their unique position at the forefront of healthcare delivery to provide relevant ideas, helping to identify specific areas that require improvements and innovation. The involvement of nursing teams in this context creates a platform for providing insights and feedback that help to improve healthcare practices.

A strong nursing team ultimately improves patient care by leveraging each member’s expertise and dedication to improve patient outcomes and overall healthcare excellence.

Building a solid nursing team

Constructing a robust and cohesive nursing team involves a deliberate and multifaceted approach encompassing various aspects of team dynamics, communication, skill development, and shared values.

While not necessary, it is good practice for teams to feature a competent leader with the essential soft skills for successful leadership in healthcare. The leader often helps to define clear roles and responsibilities for each team member, thereby promoting accountability. Furthermore, implementing a hierarchy fosters collaboration, with each member respecting different expertise levels.

Aside from a nurse manager, other team members should be selected from diverse backgrounds, experiences, and specialties to create a rounded team. It also helps to recruit nurses that are a cultural fit, are collaborative, and show commitment to patient-centered care.

Communication is critical for every successful team. Team members should encourage open and respectful communication and promote interdisciplinary collaboration to improve patient care. Effective communication and collaboration can be developed by implementing regular meetups and debriefs to discuss patient cases, share insights, and address challenges.

Additional approaches to help to develop a resilient nursing team include prioritizing work-life balance, providing feedback for continuous improvement, extending recognition and appreciation, defining shared visions, and instituting avenues for comprehensive support. By implementing these aspects, healthcare organizations can establish a solid team capable of delivering optimal healthcare.

The significance of a strong nursing team cannot be overstated. As this article has explored, the collective efforts of skilled and dedicated professionals create a powerful alliance that significantly enhances patient care. From providing personalized care to interdepartmental collaboration, care continuity, and unwavering advocacy, a robust nursing team functions as the cornerstone of exceptional healthcare delivery.

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