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Why Nursing Should Be More Like Football

Alexandra Wilson Pecci, for HealthLeaders Media, February 19, 2013

For example, a 2010 study called "Nursing staff teamwork and job satisfaction" in the Journal of Nursing Management found that within nursing teams on acute care patient units, a higher level of teamwork and perceptions of adequate staffing leads to greater job satisfaction.

Nurses' job satisfaction with their current position, as well as their satisfaction with their occupation in general were both higher when nurses rated their teamwork higher. The authors concluded that "efforts to improve teamwork and ensure adequate staffing in acute care settings would have a major impact on staff satisfaction."

Another 2010 study, "The impact of teamwork on missed nursing care," published in Nursing Outlook, concluded that "when teamwork was stronger, less missed nursing care was reported." The authors pointed to a need to invest in ways to improve teamwork.

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital has won the NDNQI Award for Outstanding Nursing Quality for two years running, so their teamwork efforts are clearly paying off. Sports teams for which teamwork is paramount have similar winning records.

Remember what happens when athletes don't play as a team? They lose the game. For nurses, the stakes are even higher.


Alexandra Wilson Pecci is a managing editor for HealthLeaders Media.

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3 comments on "Why Nursing Should Be More Like Football"


Mary K. Freel (3/15/2013 at 10:00 AM)
When I was in the workforce this was called "Report". Instead of each nurse reporting off to her counterpart EVERYONE listened to report and discussed each patient. When primary care came in report got fragmented to one on one or one team from nights reporting to one team on days. Good to see that the old ways are sometimes the best.

Ruth Hansten RN PhD FACHE (2/20/2013 at 12:27 PM)
As Kalisch and Lee's (et al.) research indicates and my research and field work recommends, another key ingredient in teamwork goes beyond safety huddling at the beginning of the shift but also includes assistive personnel (techs, CNAs) into a patient/family goals-oriented shift report at the bedside, during which the RNs offer initial direction to CNAs. Fundamental to successful teamwork is planning time to set up checkpoints, timelines, parameters for reporting, and time to debrief their teamwork and share feedback. Expert teamwork includes the "post-game" discussion or debrief if the team is to improve. All of these teamwork skills are essential to patient safety and to positive clinical outcomes. Safe delegation and assignment prevents care omissions and improves patient and staff satisfaction. Huddles are only the beginning.

Peter McMenamin, PhD (2/19/2013 at 3:35 PM)
Alexandra: I'm with you as long as "football" uses the global definition rather than the American one. The problem with the American reference is that it brings us back to "quarterback," a subject likely to take us off on another tangent. For nurses, the easy mnemonic goes from Title VIII (nursing education) to Title 9 (and American success[INVALID]if not dominance[INVALID]of women's soccer). Soccer and lacrosse are the better sports metaphors for patient-centered, team-based care. [See my note at http://www.ananursespace.org/ananursespace/blogsmain/blogviewer?BlogKey=6aadd9d1-1d5f-486c-ae09-b309ecc89c4c.] Peter McMenamin, PhD Senior Policy Fellow American Nurses Association