9 Tips for Better Teamwork in Nursing

Team of nurses sitting at a table talking

Nursing can be a meaningful career choice that can allow you to serve others with compassion and integrity. While your patients should be your top priority, take care to also be considerate of your coworkers. Teamwork in nursing is essential and nursing leaders should consider implementing team-building strategies in healthcare.

In This Article:

A Team-Minded Approach to Nursing

What exactly is teamwork in nursing? It’s an acknowledgment of the fact that no patient receives care from just one professional. Teamwork takes a patient-centered approach in which the healthcare team works toward shared goals that prioritize patient safety, quality of care and favorable patient outcomes.

No two nurses are alike; each nurse has a slightly different set of prior clinical experiences, nursing strengths and specialized knowledge. By working together, nurses can combine their strengths and abilities for the benefit of their patients. In addition, teamwork and collaboration in nursing can create a positive workplace environment that encourages open communication and supports all team members.

Why Is Teamwork and Collaboration in Nursing Important?

Teamwork and collaboration in nursing isn’t just a way to make the work environment positive and more enjoyable. It’s also a smart way to improve efficiency, encourage professional growth and facilitate effective communication to promote positive patient outcomes.

When healthcare professionals work well together, patients may receive better care. Today’s healthcare environment functions using a multidisciplinary approach to patient care. As a member of the multidisciplinary team, there are things you can do to foster team building for nurses.

How To Improve Teamwork in Nursing

There are quite a few team-building strategies in healthcare that nurse leaders can implement. The following are a few ideas to get started.

1. Communicate Effectively With Your Colleagues

Excellent patient care does not happen in a vacuum. It takes a team working together to give patients the best possible outcome.

One of the cornerstones of teamwork is communication. When you are handing over care of a patient at the end of your shift, you can ensure smooth continuity of care by effectively communicating important details about that patient. Doing so can also reduce the risk of medical errors.

2. Promote a Friendly, Supportive Workplace

Healthcare can involve demanding work. When a shift is especially busy and you are trying to do a dozen things at once, it is easy to let good manners and professionalism take a backseat. But remember that you are part of a team, and modeling professionalism and calmness under pressure can encourage the rest of your team to do the same.

Something as simple as a genuinely friendly smile can brighten everyone’s day. When disagreements do occur, do not take it personally. Be receptive to constructive criticism and phrase your own feedback in positive, productive ways. Take the time to get to know your co-workers on a personal level; doing something simple, such as inviting other team members to eat lunch with you, may help build your relationships.

Building rapport is a step toward team building for nurses. Knowing your team well also allows you to assess how someone’s personality or current life events might affect any given clinical situation.

3. Divide Responsibilities and Offer Help

Most nurses would probably agree that they wished they had more time. When you are pressed for time, you might not be eager to offer your assistance to another nurse’s patient. Try to be adaptable and offer your help regardless of how busy you are.

Volunteering even a few minutes of your time to help a team member can go a long way toward building camaraderie. Your team members will remember your efforts and may be more likely to extend a helping hand to others in the future. It often makes sense to shift some responsibilities around according to each team member’s own strengths and weaknesses, even if this requires providing care for another nurse’s patient.

4. Establish Feedback

It’s important to hold team members accountable and have clear communication with them. This includes giving them feedback. Tell your team members what they are doing well and what they can improve on.

5. Lead by Example

All members of the team influence care and play a vital role as leaders and change agents, regardless of their position in the organizational hierarchy. Consider the qualities you look for in team members and leaders. Cultivate those qualities in yourself.

Trustworthiness, reliability, compassion, flexibility and a willingness to go above and beyond for your colleagues are all important traits. Leading by example also involves demonstrating professionalism. This means avoiding gossip and negativity and encouraging others to do the same. As your colleagues grow to appreciate your professionalism and dedication to the team, they will strive to develop the same qualities in themselves.

6. Host Team Huddles

Collaboration and effective communication go beyond the transfer of care at shift change. Offer to host team huddles on a weekly or monthly basis with your charge nurse or department supervisor. Team huddles can focus on ideas to improve quality or efficiency, troubleshoot challenges on the unit or share the best evidence in nursing practice. These meetings can boost the morale of the team while encouraging camaraderie.

7. Promote Positive Communication

Positive communication in the workplace can positively influence employee motivation and organizational culture. The workplace can be a very stressful environment, particularly when colleagues do not agree. The best approach to encourage mutual understanding is to foster open, non-judgmental dialogue. Listen to understand, and when tensions rise, use a mediator to facilitate the discussion. Charge nurses, supervisors and managers may be trained in communication techniques that include de-escalation and team-building strategies in healthcare.

8. Encourage Knowledge Sharing

For nursing professionals, there’s always something new to learn, no matter how many years of experience one has. Encourage your colleagues to work together and share best practices. What you learn may surprise you!

9. Practice Community Building

Conflict can occur even among the most caring and dedicated individuals. Rather than seek to control or manage a situation, work to repair relationships between colleagues and build one another up.

Building a strong community in the workplace begins with the same skills nurses use at the bedside. Assess the situation, ask questions, offer to help, identify solutions and demonstrate empathy.

Want To Be Part of a Nursing Team?

If you would like opportunities to deepen your knowledge of advanced nursing theory while also examining key leadership skills, then it may be time to go back to school. Aspiring nurse leaders can enroll in the Master of Science in Nursing with an Emphasis in Leadership in Health Care Systems degree program at Grand Canyon University. This MSN is designed to prepare nurses to pursue nursing leadership positions through a curriculum that examines professional ethics, organizational behavior, strategies for fostering teamwork and other core competencies. 

GCU’s College of Nursing and Health Care Professions offers a range of master’s and doctoral degrees for nurses with a passion for lifelong learning. The MSN with an Emphasis in Leadership in Health Care Systems is available through online classes to accommodate the scheduling needs of working nurses. Fill out the form on this page to learn more. 

Approved by the associate dean of the College of Nursing and Healthcare Professions on April 1, 2024.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.