Why teamwork is essential in medicine

hospital teamwork

As a locum doctor, you will parachute in to many teams as part of your career. One key professional skill you must display is the flexible ability to contribute and fit in to different teamwork structures within varying environments. Undoubtedly, teamwork has proved vital in healthcare delivery, as it can have a real immediate and positive impact on patient safety and results.

There are many reasons why healthcare teams need to be finely tuned, mainly because of the increasing complexity of medical cases and the specialisation of care. Nowadays, it is very rare to be treated by just the one doctor. A multitude of concerns need to be viewed by a host of experts to ensure that the patient is receiving the right treatment course for them. Teamwork is therefore essential as effective teamwork acts to minimise adverse events which can be caused by lacklustre and unclear communications between staff. Teamwork has become one of the highest factors in reducing medical errors, and as a locum professional, being adaptable to slot in with any new team is so important.

Working together

As well as the importance of co-ordinating care, there are a few other reasons why teamwork is high on the medical agenda. Global workforce strategies and safe working hours initiatives have meant that hand over procedures are now a common routine, yet this has to be done properly to ensure that there are no slip ups or mistakes in continuing patient care.

Interestingly, even the patient could be considered as a member of the team, since you can use them as a valuable source of information. They will most likely be the only one able to tell you about their complete care to date, filling in any pesky paperwork gaps. Lining up with other experienced specialist doctors helps create an extremely knowledgeable force to help the patient, as long as communication is key. Solid teamwork has reaped results in primary and cancer care especially as well as generally reducing errors.

hospital teamwork 2

It’s not just other doctors that you have to get on side, but other NHS staff such as nurses, pharmacists and healthcare assistants. Medicine is more than just technical knowledge and your behaviour can help set the situation at the right tone, especially if you accept a position where you will have junior doctors working under you. If you welcome engagement and communication from every member of staff, no matter what their role and training, then you won’t go far wrong.

What are the advantages of good teamwork?

  • Reduce hospitalisation time and costs
  • Provide an efficient use of the health care service
  • Enhance professional communication and diversity
  • Improve co-ordination of care
  • Enhance patient satisfaction
  • Patient has greater role clarity of their medical team
  • Better job satisfaction for doctors
  • Improved accessibility for patients
  • Enhanced well being
  • Better patient outcomes

What makes a team successful?

  • Common purpose
  • Measurable goals
  • Effective leadership
  • Efficient communication
  • Good cohesion
  • Mutual respect
  • Being flexible
  • Task motivation


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