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Team and multidisciplinary working

Strengthening team relationships both within and between disciplines is invaluable.

Below we give some examples of strategies to enhance team working. These are designed as a taster to get your started. The list is by no means exhaustive and there are many other excellent examples.

Multidisciplinary working

  • Ensuring emergency skills/drills or simulations and teaching is multidisciplinary
  • Ensuring multidisciplinary representation at handovers
  • Multidisciplinary debriefing e.g. after stressful events, can help build positive relations between individuals and the team as a whole. You could consider using appreciative. Read more about appreciative inquiry (PDF) or watch an introductory video
  • Adopting a multidisciplinary approach to team level interventions in general e.g. if you are introducing workplace behaviour champions then have champions across the disciplines, if you are running a human factors session then open it up to staff across disciplines
  • Consider multidisciplinary mentorship eg senior midwifery mentorship of most junior medical team members/those new to the department to help foster understanding of each others’ perspectives and work challenges whilst allowing a “safe space” to ask questions.

Improving understanding of self and of others, particularly under stress:

Celebrate your team and its diversity

Help new team members integrate

  • After working in a department for a while you can begin to take for granted all of the subtle cultural knowledge that you have accumulated, especially around departmental processes and guidelines.
  • Remember that when new members join your team from outside of this culture, they are trying to learn these new cultural norms alongside doing their day-job and may fear asking for help as they may fear that they will be perceived as not being able to manage if they do so.
  • During this period of adjustment acknowledging this and supporting them develops feelings of inclusion and value.
  • Get to know those who are new to your team; where have they come from, what is their background and do they have any specific needs? Do they have any support networks locally?
  • Doctors (and other healthcare professionals) new to the UK have the additional challenge of adjusting to UK culture and the NHS. They may require support with practical challenges such as registering with a bank and securing housing which need to be addressed within normal working hours and yet they may have started work almost immediately after arriving in the area and may feel worried about asking for time to arrange this. There have been examples of people not being able to be paid as they have not been able to arrange a bank account. Take time - whilst being respectful of their privacy – to ensure they have practicalities such as housing/banking/medical cover arranged. You may be able to support them by facilitating leave to do so.
  • Consider supporting new team members with periods of shadowing, mentors, tailored induction and signposting support available.
  • An RCOG eLearning module for "Doctors new to the UK" is in development (as of May 2021)
  • Engage in supported Return to Work for the returning after a prolonged period of absence from usual clinical duties eg parental leave, return from shielding or sick leave. Acknowledge how people may feel apprehensive returning from prolonged periods of absence.

Team education

You could consider ways to encourage individual team members to gain self-awareness and understanding of how they function within a team.

 These are some examples of methods:

These need to be done with support for the individuals and the ability of skilled team members to provide constructive feedback.

There are many free resources on team performance as well as commercial enterprises.  The RCOG does not endorse any particular provider or method.