Nurses play a vital role in health care -- registered nurses comprise the largest healthcare occupation, with 369,868 qualified nursing staff working in the NHS during 2012. Nurses treat patients, offer education and information to patients and their families, and provide emotional support to those who need it. Other responsibilities include performing medical tests, analysing results and assisting with patient rehabilitation. Few patients see only one nurse or healthcare provider, making it particularly important for nurses to develop strong teamwork skills.
Communication problems and inadequate teamwork are both factors affecting poor care and higher death rates. Teamwork breakdowns can also have devastating effects in an emergency department environment, since lacking information or cooperation can lead to mistakes in nursing care. Conversely, teamwork can lead to more positive patient outcomes, thanks to more reasoned decisions developed through increased information-sharing and fewer mistakes made due to lack of information.
Teamwork in nursing care contributes directly to more effective communication. Nurses communicate with each other to compare general notes, discuss new information about a patient's changed health status and note changes made in the patient's medical care plan, such as prescriptions, dietary changes or surgeries planned. Nursing care also involves communicating with other healthcare professionals, including doctors, speech therapists or paramedics. Being a team player involves sharing insights, observations and concerns with relevant medical providers to make adjustments to patient care.
Maintaining a strong teamwork environment in nursing care can enhance colleague knowledge. Working together, nurses can pass along new strategies, techniques or information about particular diagnoses. This increases overall team knowledge, since nurses may come from varying training and experience backgrounds. More experienced nurses can also help newer professionals or those transitioning to the job site from another location. Additionally, teamwork allows nursing colleagues to become more familiar with one another's professional strengths and weaknesses. When assigning patients, a staff sister may assign a child patient to a nurse with significant experience or personal aptitude for working with children, or assign a cardiac patient to nurses who have just completed speciality training in innovative cardiac care.
Promoting teamwork in nursing care can also increase job satisfaction for those involved. Environments lacking a teamwork mentality may break down into competition, petty squabbles or frustrations, with employees perceived to be not pulling their weight. Teamwork can foster increased motivation and a willingness to be supportive during stressful or emergency situations.
A strong teamwork ethic in nursing care can enhance self-governance. Nursing departments that don't break down into frequent employee bickering and don't make avoidable mistakes but do consistently produce quality care are more likely to be permitted some autonomy and self-governance within the hospital or medical care environment. Ineffective nursing departments may be more subject to administrative scrutiny and regulation.