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Teamwork: sustaining success in a primary care setting

As teamwork is a necessity in clinical practice, teambuilding exercises through a multidimensional approach can help sustain a successful practice environment.

As teamwork is a necessity in clinical practice, teambuilding exercises through a multidimensional approach can help sustain a successful practice environment

Today's primary care practice requires a multidimensional approach to providing optimal patient care while maintaining compliance with clinical guidelines, patient outcomes and sustaining financial viability.

Hiring the right staff and fostering a team approach are critical aspects of management.

Personality tools

Taking advantage of the information and insights from a personality assessment may be a strategy to get the right people into the right positions. However, these are highly debated and their reliability and validity may be questioned. Personality tests can often be manipulated in the way they are answered.

The candidate may answer how they think the employer would prefer and not the way that truly reflects what they think. It can also be difficult to

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As teamwork is a necessity in clinical practice, teambuilding exercises through a multidimensional approach can help sustain a successful practice environment

Today's primary care practice requires a multidimensional approach to providing optimal patient care while maintaining compliance with clinical guidelines, patient outcomes and sustaining financial viability.


Picture: iStock

Hiring the right staff and fostering a team approach are critical aspects of management.

Personality tools

Taking advantage of the information and insights from a personality assessment may be a strategy to get the right people into the right positions. However, these are highly debated and their reliability and validity may be questioned. Personality tests can often be manipulated in the way they are answered.

The candidate may answer how they think the employer would prefer and not the way that truly reflects what they think. It can also be difficult to predict job performance based on these instruments because initial answers may change over time.

Martin (2014) says personality tests are most effective when they are combined with other measures such as integrity or cognitive ability that have higher predictive validity. The strongest personality assessment tools used for hiring purposes are those that measure stable traits that will not change once the candidate starts working, are normative in nature so that one candidate's scores can be compared to those of another, can detect distortion, and have high reliability including test-retest reliability.

Staff mentoring

With successful mentoring, the rewards may include more effective teamwork, improved staff morale, and greater efficiency in practice operations and productivity. These positive outcomes can also affect overall patient satisfaction. Employees that experience high job satisfaction are more likely to present with a positive attitude and make a difference in the way they greet and treat patients.

To foster a team environment, it is important to lead by example, place efforts on open communication, seek input from staff and provide positive reinforcement (Gesme et al 2010).

Fostering teamwork

Teamwork is critical for ensuring patient safety and outcomes. According to Kalisch et al (2009), enhanced teamwork in healthcare is needed to avoid patient errors. Nurses working on effective teams are more productive and less stressed, and deliver better care with fewer errors. These positive results were also reflected in patient satisfaction reports.

Initial training programmes with follow-up and booster sessions are important to ensure team effectiveness. Providing regular staff meetings can foster communication and decision making, and confirm roles and expectations. Such frequent meetings also offer staff an opportunity for feedback and encourage team cohesion and team spirit (Ghorob and Bodenheimer 2012).

There are many ways to foster teamwork in a practice environment. Some practices use the buddy system, which can be especially effective for new recruits. Pairing new clinical staff with a long-term employee can provide an opportunity not only for bonding, but also for learning.

The challenge of building a team is not only in the development of the team members, but also in maintaining communication and cohesion within the team, especially through times of change or when new members join. There are tools that can be used, however, although their reliability may be debated.

Seeking opportunities to promote growth of the individual members and the team as a whole is important. After all, a busy practice faces a vast array of challenges on any given day and teamwork is critical to sustaining success.

References
  • Gesme DH, Towle EL, Wiseman M (2010) Essentials of staff development and why you should care. Journal of Oncology Practice. doi: 10.1200/JOP.091089
  • Ghorob A, Bodenheimer T (2012) Share the care: building teams in primary care practices. Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. doi:10.3122/jabfm.2012.02.120007
  • Kalisch BJ, Weaver SJ, Salas E (2009) What does nursing teamwork look like? A qualitative study. Journal of Nursing Care Quality. doi: 10.1097/01.NCQ.0000349620.43879
  • Martin W (2014) The problem with using personality tests for hiring. Harvard Business Review.

About the author 

Kimberly Lynch is adult nurse practitioner at DePaul University, Libertyville IL, United States

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