The Importance of being a team player.

In medicine you will have to work in a team. Just because you are a team member doesn’t mean you are a team player!


I have been part of many teams. This includes extracurricular activities, academic competitions and volunteering. I am currently volunteering on a ward which has a fantastic team.Today, whilst volunteering on the ward,I wondered what make this multidisciplinary team so successful and here are my thoughts…


My first thought is that we are all focused on one goal: to give the best patient care. We all want what is best for our patients. No matter what our personal differences are, we all are here to provide the best possible care. Any good team will prioritise this goal over personal differences and do their best to achieve the aim.


The second thought is more of an observation.Most healthcare teams are multidisciplinary therefore meaning that different roles within the team are focused on different aspects of patient care. For example doctors focus more on diagnosing, curing and managing a disease or a condition whereas nurses and HCA focus more on delivering the care needed. Not only do nurses and HCA focus on delivering physical care they also care for patients emotionally.However, from my observations, what makes a team member successful is not being exclusive to your job description. For example, strictly speaking as a meal time volunteer I am only supposed to help out with serving the meals and encouraging patients to eat their food. However I have made multiple trips to the shop for patients who are bed bound, I have had lengthy chats with patients who are anxious and I have even helped patients out with their phones. All the staff do jobs that are not within their job description but if we all kept exclusive to our titles then patient’s care would not be successful and the team would be dysfunctional.


My last thought is to be empathetic to your colleagues.Working in the medical field can be physically and emotionally taxing meaning not every day will be a good day. Understanding this and understanding that we all deal with situations differently will allow you to understand your colleagues.With this in mind it may mean that you will have to help out a little more than you usually do to maintain a good level of patient care if one of your colleagues are not feeling their best.


The three points above are what i believe a good team player must have. To be focused on the main objective is fundamental and to do everything in your power to achieve this objective without any problems are key.  


The importance of communication!

As a meal time volunteer, I must clean all the patient’s tables before they eat. This is to make sure they are eating in a clean and hygienic environment. Half way through cleaning the tables, i came across a woman sitting in her chair that was beside her bed. I politely asked how she was and before she could answer she became quite distressed and tearful.

I knelt beside her and asked her what was the matter. She simply replied “I’m lonely.” I offered her a tissue and I poured her some water. She explained to me how she is so anxious about going back home because she cannot stand being alone. We spoke for over an hour and it became quite clear that she felt that she was a burden to society and she was too afraid to ask for help. I explained to her that she doesn’t have to be  alone, and there is a lot of measures that can help her. When I left she was happy. On the journey home I reflected on my experience.

I learned the true meaning of communication. I did a quick search to find the meaning of the term “communication” . It states “the imparting or exchanging of information by speaking, writing, or using some other medium” This might be the definition but in practise it is nothing like that! It’s about understanding and empathising with the person you are conversing with. It is about understand and engaging with the content as well as showing a real interest in what they have to say. I keep thinking what if I never asked the woman how she was feeling. She would have simply kept her anxiety inside her.

Letting it eat away.