The effectiveness and productivity of nursing teams often depends on unit cohesion and strong leadership. All healthcare employment agencies know that in environments involving patient care, teamwork is of the utmost importance, with nurses staying in teams that know how to work together under the direction of a capable leader.
Besides being more productive, nurses that work on effective teams are:
- Happier and less stressed
- More likely to deliver a higher quality of care
- Less likely to make mistakes
- More likely to make patients feel satisfied with their car
In an effort to understand the importance of teamwork and identify relevant team processes among nurses, a research team from the University of Michigan, School of Nursing recently conducted a qualitative study involving five different patient care units organized into focus groups, who were then asked to describe the team process on a typical work day.
Nurse Manager Leadership
In their discussions, the nursing focus groups first tackled leadership as a key issue in teamwork. Participants identified leadership styles and the nurse manager’s role as critical factors behind the success of a nursing team. Participants were able to provide positive examples (such as a nursing manager recognizing the value of nurses working together) as well as negative examples (like a nursing manager failing to talk about the importance of teamwork) of nurse manager leadership.
Although the focus groups recognized the overall leadership role played by nurse managers in establishing cohesion and order, they also identified assistant nurse managers or charge nurses (CNs) as being responsible for ensuring teamwork in day-to-day situations. Charge nurses were identified as having more influence over teamwork in each shift, and were expected to facilitate proper communication between nurses and provide adequate staff and material resources.
Many staffing services companies know that charge nurses play a more hands-on role with nursing teams. The study’s results are consistent with this belief, with focus groups expecting charge nurses to lead nurses through every shift, be available for supervisory decisions, ensure adequate staffing, and make proper patient assignments not according to the number of patients, but the overall work and time required.
Registered nurses were also identified as being expected to lead a patient care team of licensed practical nurses and nurse assistants, though this area often had problems as some registered nurses failed to provide proper supervision and delegation to nurse assistants. Other times, nurse assistants outright refused to be instructed by RNs.