3. Teamwork: Communication Matters

The Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University in Newfoundland has looked at the characteristics of effective interprofessional healthcare teams, beginning with the observation that bringing together a group of healthcare providers from different professions doesn’t mean that that group is automatically a team. A team “may be defined as a small number of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they hold themselves mutually accountable.”1

The dynamic nature of a team has an impact on performance, productivity and personal satisfaction. Working in teams is relational, and all relationships are built on communication. (Course 5: Part 1 – Open Communication and Course 8: Working in Teams provide more detail.)

Effective interprofessional teams may be characterized as follows:

  • members provide care to a common group of patient/clients
  • members develop common goals for patient/client outcomes and work toward those goals
  • appropriate roles and functions are assigned to each member, and each member understands the roles of the other members
  • the team possesses a mechanism for sharing information
  • the team possesses a mechanism to oversee the carrying out of plans, to assess outcomes, and to make adjustments based on the results of those outcomes2

When teams fail to work together issues such as competition, ethical conflicts, personality clashes and abuse of power are often involved.

How we treat each other and how we are treated in the workplace affects confidence, self-esteem and dedication. How we communicate can improve or even redeem injured relationships, and renew trust.

How a team communicates affects group function, goal setting, role identity and behaviour. Giving your IEHPs the support and training they need to effectively adapt and integrate gives them the chance to make their best contribution to the team. The impact of effective teamwork and ineffective teamwork are often evident in the patient experience. As you watch the next video, consider the impact of the team, especially when the human stakes are high. What issues come to mind?



Take a moment to consider what issues might affect the overall function of this team.

In the next vignette, think about how other responses from team members can affect team behaviour.



What did you notice about the team response this time? What positive changes did you observe?

Take a look back at Course 6: Part 1 – Creating a Positive Work Environment for more suggestions to help keep team members communicating with each other in positive ways.

1, 2 https://www.med.mun.ca/getdoc/601a16b5-7a06-4447-8840-60af3fa494cd/Interprofessional-Health-Care-Teams.aspx


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