Book Review: Collaborative Caring: Stories and Reflections on Teamworkin Health Care

By | 12th February 2016

Teamwork is an important topic in health care organizations today. While there are many theoretical books that explore the issues of teamwork in a health care setting, the practical application of theory into practice continues to be increasingly complex. Teamwork is integral to providing quality patient care that is both efficient in minimizing costs and resources, and effective in decreasing errors and injuries. This book discusses the topic of teamwork and its nature in real world application. Editors Suzanne Gordon, David Feldman, and Michael Leonard have compiled fifty stories provided by people from various health care professions that give a first hand account of what effective teamwork, or the lack of it, means in the health care field. The book explores several different themes such as psychological safety, patient advocacy, barriers to effective teamwork and the organizational cultural traits that help to overcome such barriers and establish genuine teamwork models.

The book is comprised of eight parts that cover the different dimensions of teamwork, each having a brief introduction highlighting its key messages. Part 1 includes stories where health care personnel excel at working as part of a team, and insight and understanding of the team, team intelligence, is illustrated. The stories in Part 2 showcase ineffective teams and the damages or dangers that occur as a result of the absence of collaborative work. Part 3 shares stories that discuss the importance of the patient as a member of the team, and including the patient in discussions, and feedback. Part 4 discusses psychological safety, where one feels safe to voice concerns about patients or situations, being at the crux of effective team building. The stories within focus on leadership skills required for the creation of such an environment. The stories in Part 5 demonstrate that coaching and learning are crucial for team related evaluation and process improvement. Part 6 demonstrates patient advocacy not only being an essential component of high quality care, but also being at the heart of genuine team models that provide patient and family centered care. Part 7 looks at the barriers to effective teamwork. Barriers that have kept health care professionals working in silos as opposed to teams include organizational hierarchies, professional self-identities and incentives or reward structures. Part 8 concludes with stories that illustrate how organizations are adapting to transform themselves to create the systems and culture necessary for good teamwork.

This book is an excellent read for raising awareness of the practical application of team theory and its various issues. The stories increase understanding of the complexities involved inreal-world teamwork dynamics and what healthcare professionals and administrators can do to solve such issues. Ultimately, teamwork that is both efficient and effective is necessary for providing sustainable, quality health care.

Reviewed by
Naz Qureshi, BSc, BCom, MBA
Alberta Pensions Services Corporation

Collaborative Caring: Stories and Reflections on Teamwork in Health Care
Suzanne Gordon, David L. Feldman, and Michael Leonard
New York, USA, Cornell University Press, 2014
286 pages, $27.95
ISBN 978-0-8014-5339-7