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Playing well in the sandbox

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I don’t know if it’s just a nursing ‘thing’, or other career choices emphasize and utilize the team work concept repeatedly. I have encountered it and seen it at ever level of my training and nursing education. From my diploma program, through my BSN education and now currently in my Master’s Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program. Working well with others is a quality that educators require.

I guess it should be no surprise considering what we do on a daily basis. We are the coordinators of care, the wranglers, and the sieve where almost all of our patients’ care is poured and filtered. So if we can’t navigate the didactic of the team concept, our patients are in trouble.

As students we are put through the rigors of group projects. The majority of my projects have applied to research projects, but they sure haven’t been limited to just that subject.

Sometimes you get to pick and choose your group and group members, other times you get the luck of the draw and are assigned to a group. This equates to working conditions if you think about it. You sometimes get to choose whom you work with and where, while other times you can be ‘pulled’ to a foreign or neighboring unit.

The group didactic can be quite enjoyable and simple, or miserable and complex. I’ve experienced both during my time as a nurse in both the academic and professional setting. One thing is for sure, the only thing you ever have control over is your own thoughts and actions. No matter what you may want or need from someone else, in the end you have to figure out how to make it work so that it benefits everyone.

There will be personality conflicts, scheduling differences, work ethic challenges, deadline stressors, and of course the occasional ‘what the heck happened’ moments (I sometimes call that the curve-ball syndrome). Regardless of the situation, the only way things work out is when everyone knows their part, does their part, and communicates their part effectively, efficiently and equally.

I don’t know about you, but every time I work within a group a learn a little bit more about my self. More about my strengths, my weaknesses, and of course my habits. I have subconscious tendencies that are both a help and a hindrance to me and the group. And I’m still trying to sharpen my communication skills to this day!

I haven’t met a nurse that looks forward to group projects. I think we all approach group projects the same way we encounter ‘change’ – we’re not big fans of it, but we know it’s inevitable.

I also look at it this way. Remember how I gave the comparison of getting assigned to groups and getting to work where you want? Well that comparison is synonymous with our patient assignments aren’t they? We sometimes get to choose the assignment we want or know is going to be good, and other times we have to bite the bullet and take that assignment that we know is going to put us through the ringer. Does that mean we provide less care?

Not in my opinion.

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