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What makes a good nurse team?

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Recently I was fortunate enough to participate in an independently funded academic program geared towards gaining a better understanding of geriatric health care management. And boy, did I learn a lot about what my fellow team members think about nurses.

It was a joint task force consisting of medical students, pharmacy students and nurse practitioner students. The goal of this program was to expose the aforementioned health care professionals to the reality of our present day health care system in a team-learning environment. In that way, they could gain a better understanding to the complexities of geriatric care while at the same time preparing them for collaborative care management.

Up until recently it’s always been the the accepted practice to follow the hierarchy of care management. The physician is the primary care decision maker and the pharmacists and other licensed health care practitioners follow their decisions.

Not that this is a bad thing, or the wrong thing. But as you and I both have discovered over the years, it’s not the most ideal thing. In order to meet the needs of our ever changing (and increasingly complex) patient population, health care (including nursing) must grow, change, develop and adapt.

It was realized many years ago that collaborative decision making and care is light years better, more efficient and safer at managing complex health problems than any one individual (or profession).

So instead of MD, PharmD and NP having to learn ‘on the go’ and iron out the wrinkles concerning team didactics and utilizing each others strengths to maximize their patients outcomes after they graduate, this program is attempting to teach these professionals how this concept works even before they graduate and move on into their roles as practitioners.

I guess the rudimentary analogy is: A hand is stronger than a single finger.

This program consisted of traditional learning curriculum presentations mixed in with numerous didactic team-oriented ‘role-play’ scenarios that reflected ‘real-life’ decisions making challenges for a health care team.

I learned that our fellow health care team members have no honest idea of what advanced nursing education and training entails. Many were not aware of the requirements, let alone our previous experiences. I didn’t consider it good or bad, I considered it startling. I guess I went under the assumption that physicians and pharmacists worked with us every day, they have to know and understand our professional training??

I learned a great deal about medical and pharmacy school education as well. I have a better appreciation for their knowledge and skill. If my fellow health care professional students learned a tenth about me, what I learned about them, then I am excited for what our future holds.

We learned what a good team functions like, we learned what a bad team suffers from. We learned how to take a step back and view the challenges from different perspectives. And above all we learned to appreciate what each person brought to the team.

I don’t know about you, but this ‘new’ program should become a staple and requirement of every professions curriculum. What better way to ensure the very best care for our patients?

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