The American Association of Critical Care Nurses (AACN) has made an active commitment to promote the creation of healthy work environments that support excellence in patient care. There is a plethora of evidence supporting the notion that unhealthy work environments contribute to many other serious problems in healthcare such as medical errors, patient readmission, and nurse turnover. Therefore, the AACN has put forth six essential standards for the establishing and sustaining of healthy work environments. These standards are evidenced-based and relationship-centered, and they include: skilled communication, true collaboration, effective decision making, appropriate staffing, meaningful recognition, and authentic leadership (“AACN Standards,” 2005). This paper will focus primarily on the standard of true collaboration, also known as teamwork. However, it is important to recognize that without the other five standards, true and effective collaboration can never be achieved. Teamwork, as defined by the American Heritage Dictionary, is “a cooperative effort by members of a group or team to achieve a common goal” (Thomas, Sexton & Helmreich, 2003, p. 2). According to one source, the use of effective teamwork has been associated with higher job satisfaction, higher quality of patient care, increase in patient safety and patient satisfaction, increase in productivity, and decrease of stress (Kalisch, Curley, & Stefanov, 2007). Another source states that higher levels of teamwork lead to lower burnout scores, less nurse vacancy, confidence in patients after discharge, and perceived quality improvement (Rafferty, Ball, & Aiken, 2001). Consequently, it is quite evident that the use of effective teamwork is vital to the well-being of the patient and the success of the healthcare organization. The topic of this paper stems from the recognized importance of collaboration among nursing staff, and the creation of a quality improvement project geared towards enhancing teamwork in critical care areas. When patient acuity is high, it is important that staff are constantly supporting one another and helping out in any way possible. The primary focus should be on the patient and doing what is best to promote the optimal health and well-being of that patient; this cannot be achieved without the help and commitment of the entire healthcare team. It is vital to understand that teamwork is a crucial element in providing exceptional care for critically ill patients. This quality improvement project is targeted toward critical care units; however, it can be easily generalized and implemented in any acute care unit. This project was presented to the Transplant ICU at the University of Kansas Medical Center. The implementation of such a project will positively impact nursing care, patient satisfaction, and overall safety in the many ways as stated previously. The use of teamwork will result in an increase in the quality of patient care and the achievement of optimal patient outcomes because nursing staff will accomplish more tasks by working together. It will also increase patient satisfaction and safety because staff will be more willing to help patients in need, whether or not they were assigned to them. Lastly, the use of teamwork can help decrease an individual’s workload and stress, allowing him or her to be more productive. This will also help the staff enjoy being at work, resulting in improved job satisfaction and decreased turnover or vacancy. Review of Literature
The role teamwork plays in developing and sustaining a healthy work environment has been recognized by key stakeholders in healthcare. The Joint Commission on the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) is a strong proponent of teamwork with a focus on the coordination of care and support of healthcare professionals. According to JCAHO, “teams whose members have experienced working together know each other's strengths and weaknesses, can better support...
References: AACN standards for establishing and sustaining healthy work environments. (2005). Retrieved from: http://www.aacn.org/WD/HWE/Docs/HWEStandards.pdf
Gartner, A. (2012, April 04). Interview by K. Spohn [Personal Interview]. Quality improvement University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, MO.
Kalisch, B., & Begeny, S
Kalisch, B., Curley, M., & Stefanov, S. (2007). An intervention to enhance nursing staff teamwork and engagement . The Journal of Nursing Administration, 37(2), 77-84. http://www.nursingcenter.com/
Kalisch, B., & Lee, H
Olberding, A. (2012, April 12). Interview by K. Spohn [Personal Interview]. Manager interview and recommendations. University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS.
Quality based problem-solving/process improvement
Rafferty, A., Ball, J., & Aiken, L. (2001). Are teamwork and professional autonomy compatible, and do they result in improved hospital care. British Medical Journal, 10(2), 32-37. doi: 10.1136/qhc0100032
Reader, T., Rhona, F., Mearns, K., & Cuthbertson, B. (2009). Developing a team performance framework for the intensive care unit. Critical Care Medicine, 37(5), 1787-1793. doi: 10.1097/CCM.ob013e31819fo451
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