…No “I” in “Team”

images-13It is true.  There is no “I” in the word “Team”.

There is also no “Team” in the words “Responsibility”, “Lawsuit”, “Assignment”, “Medication Error”, “Patient Safety”, “Holiday Shifts”, “Experience”, “Benefits” and “Income”, “Patient Load”, “Professional”, “License” or “Certification.   – There are only “I”s.

All this to say, it is time we quit teaching our young that “We are a Team!”

We are not.

We are individually practicing professionals with our own patient assignments and patient care assistants (sometimes) to delegate and direct.  We ultimately carry the personal responsibility for each individual patient assignment we agree to take.

Additionally, while we are not “responsible” and therefore not “liable” for another practitioner’s care (unless we are assigned as their preceptor), we are quite willing to provide simple coverage when needed for a break, give and receive help in a crisis, and lend a hand when we are not busy with something else.

We are completely capable of mounting a team-like intervention for a multi-system/multi-need situation with any single patient, but even with the tried-and-true Code Team, we still divide into roles that carry their own responsibilities and individual tasks.  (i.e. It does not take a “team” to insert the ET tube, just a single person; there is no team needed for code documentation; and we purposely only allow a single person to draw meds.)

Granted, it takes the team performing individual patient procedures correctly (and at the same time) to move toward the desired outcome but the “responsibility” of performing each task correctly is an individual‘s assignment, not the team’s.  A successful outcome was achieved because the team performed their individual roles competently and the patient’s condition was favorable.

Clinical Shift Nursing by itself is not a team activity.  A near-miss medication error is not a team find; it is an astute and practiced nurse discovery.  A negative change in bowel status, a sudden onset of respiratory distress, a properly attended post surgical patient and an excellently educated patient is a nurse‘s responsibility to assess and find and perform; it is not a team’s responsibility.

Likewise, a bachelors degree, a masters degree, specialty certifications, a doctoral degree and cumulative years of experience are not team activities.

When the responsibility lies with a single person and the single person will be held accountable for the oversight, mistake or negative outcome, then there most certainly IS an “I” in “Team”.

Just as the crowds stomp the stands and yell and wave their foam Number-1 hands as the Shaq slam-dunks an in-your-face basket and he turns and points-out the teammate that fed him the ball while the cheering is still in full ring, nurses should be receiving those point-outs too.

And as the game announcers and stats-keepers announce and record the name of the passer as well as the point-maker, nurses should be receiving that documentation also.  The INDIVIDUAL nurse.  For it was not the team that interpreted the vital signs to be new, different, unexpected or life-threatening and rallied the correct therapy for the patient’s care; it was the individually assigned, responsible for care, professionally-credentialed and experienced bedside nurse.

Take the time and attention to give the credit.  Point them out.  Know their First and Last names, for gawd’s sake!  Put the Stars on a plaque.  Give the Achievers a monetary bonus.  Pay your highest-performing Nurses at significantly higher wages.

Nurses:  Expect to be named specifically.  Write articles about your experiences and findings for publication.  Suggest, plan and conduct research.  Stand up proudly and take the credit for a job well-done when it is!

Wear your certifications and graduate degrees as well as your First and Last names on your badges.  Speak up! and attach your name to your work.  Require individually negotiated compensation that accounts for your education, certifications, publications, and years of experience.

And stop teaching Nurses they are a Team. They/We are not.  We are independently licensed, individually responsible professional LEADERS of our patient’s clinical care.

…No, there is no “I” in “Team”, but there is a “me” in there.

…and there’s a “ME” in “AWESOME” too!!