How To Improve Teamwork in Nursing

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 1, 2021

Nurses use teamwork skills constantly, from collaborating with other nurses to developing care plans with doctors. Being able to work as a team is essential for reducing medical errors, improving patient care and establishing a more efficient workflow. In this article, we share seven actionable steps you can take to improve your teamwork skills as a nurse.

Why is teamwork in nursing important?

Teamwork is an important aspect of nursing because it creates effective and open communication among healthcare professionals, improving their ability to care for patients. As a nurse, you serve a central position that connects patients, doctors and administrative personnel. When you use teamwork successfully, you can generate several benefits for you, your colleagues and your workplace:

  • Greater job satisfaction: Being able to work well as a team with your nursing colleagues can help you reduce stress and increase happiness at work. When you can trust others to work with you toward a common goal, you can enjoy a balanced workload and explore the aspects of nursing you enjoy most.

  • Improved patient care: Multiple nurses and other healthcare professionals can collaborate when treating patients, and using teamwork ensures that they all provide a consistent standard of care to each patient. This improves the patient's experience, upholds accountability and makes the treatment process safer.

  • More efficient processes: When multiple nursing professionals work together as a team, they can delegate tasks effectively and determine the most efficient way to accomplish their goals. Your teamwork skills can save time, allowing you to serve more patients while providing high-quality care.

  • Stronger professional connections: By having a team-oriented mindset when working as a nurse, you can learn more about your colleagues and strengthen your professional network. Communicating with all the healthcare professionals on your team can introduce you to mentorship opportunities, inspire your career goals and allow you to share your nursing expertise with others.

Related: 11 Benefits of Teamwork

7 tips for improving teamwork as a nurse

Whether you're a new nurse seeking to integrate into your workplace or an experienced nursing manager looking to be more successful at work, you can improve your teamwork skills by using these tips:

1. Increase communication

Use written and verbal communication to collaborate with other nursing and healthcare professionals and develop a team dynamic. Consider improving your communication skills through training and drills. For example, taking part in a drill to evaluate your nursing team's communication skills can help you determine key areas for improvement.

Based on your findings, you can implement new avenues of communication that allow for greater collaboration within a nursing team. Not only can increased communication help improve teamwork in nursing, but it can also lead to greater motivation levels among the nursing team.

Related: 12 Ways To Encourage Teamwork

2. Be transparent

Establish transparency on your team by being honest and direct with both your nursing colleagues and your patients. Being transparent promotes teamwork because it ensures that everyone on a team has the same information, expectations and standards. Practice transparency by taking detailed chart notes for each patient and regularly checking in with your nursing team to confirm the status of various priorities.

You can also boost transparency by requesting clarification on your assignments and asking for help if you feel overwhelmed with your work or feel uncertain about the best way to help a patient. Keeping your team informed about your needs can provide you with opportunities to learn and help you prevent burnout.

3. Clarify roles

Classify and clarify roles to improve team collaboration. By establishing clear expectations for each member of a team, you confirm that everyone accomplishes their assigned tasks without accidental overlap of responsibilities. When everyone knows who fills each role on a team, it makes it easier to find essential information and quickly complete priority tasks.

To develop nursing team roles that promote teamwork, write down the scope of each position in a shared document that everyone on the nursing team can access. Fairly divide tasks based on experience and training and update the document regularly to reflect any changes. When new employees join your healthcare team, they can review the document to quickly learn about nursing workflows and find their own niche in the team.

Related: Nursing Leadership and Management: Role Definitions and Differences

4. Promote adaptability

Practice being flexible and adaptable so you can easily assist your team members when they need help. By encouraging adaptability among your team, you can make adjustments to provide customized care to each patient and successfully navigate unexpected situations. Become more adaptable as a nurse by paying attention to your surroundings and preparing to offer support if you notice another healthcare professional needs help. Use your problem-solving skills to reorganize tasks so everyone on your team can accomplish their priorities.

Another technique for building adaptability is shadowing your colleagues and learning about their approach to nursing. Learning new skills from your fellow nurses can make it easier for you to work together and support one another.

Related: How to Be Flexible at Work (With Tips and Examples)

5. Follow up

Reach out to other healthcare providers and follow up about patient care to improve accountability throughout the nursing team. Because healthcare institutions may work with high volumes of patients, it's important for you to take initiative and track the progress of tasks like sending referrals, processing labs and scheduling appointments. Update your colleagues when you accomplish tasks and follow up with them when working together to treat patients. Following up with colleagues and healthcare providers at other institutions can help your team stay organized and meet objectives on time.

When following up about a task, document your communications with patients and healthcare professionals. Note who you contacted, when you followed up and how you communicated with them, such as over the phone or in person. Collecting this information allows your team members to quickly know who to contact about any updates and when to follow up again.

6. Complete regular training

Expand your nursing skills by regularly attending professional development training opportunities with your team. When each member of the nursing team improves their own knowledge and abilities, they can contribute more to the collective strengths of the team. Coordinate opportunities for your team to review nursing basics and or take classes to learn new, innovative healthcare strategies.

You can also train as a team by establishing a mentoring or coaching program where each member of the nursing staff can share their individual expertise with the team. Cultivate teamwork by giving everyone an opportunity to teach about their passions and learn from others.

7. Set an example for others

Be mindful of your own attitude and behaviors to encourage a culture of teamwork. Your individual choices can set an example for how to be a successful part of a nursing team. You can use your personal contributions to bond your team together and demonstrate the value of being a team player. Hold yourself to a high standard by seeking opportunities to help others, using active listening skills and getting to know everyone on your team. Encourage others, follow best practices for nursing and prioritize your patients to create an expectation of collaboration and teamwork.

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