Innovations in Healthcare

TeamSTEPPS Initiative Teaches Teamwork to Healthcare Providers


University of Minnesota hospitalist Karyn Baum, MD, MSEd, directs one of six regional training centers for Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety (TeamSTEPPS), an evidence-based, multimedia curriculum, tool set, and system for healthcare organizations to improve their teamwork.

Using the TeamSTEPPS approach, Dr. Baum collaborated with hospitalist Albertine Beard, MD, and the charge nurse on a 28-bed medical unit at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center to present a half-day training session for all VA staff, including four hospitalists. The seminar mixed didactics, discussions, and simulations, similar to traditional role-playing techniques but using a high-fidelity manikin that talks and displays vital signs.

"Teamwork is a set of knowledge, skills, and attitudes that lead to the creation of a culture where it’s about us as a team, not about who is highest in the hierarchy," Dr. Baum says. Hospitalists want to be leaders, "but we have a responsibility to be intentional leaders, learning the skills and modeling them," she adds.

Improved teamwork benefits patients through more effective communication and reduction in medical errors, Dr. Baum says, "but it also helps to create a healthy environment in which to work, where we all have each other’s backs."

TeamSTEPPS, developed jointly by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) and the Department of Defense, has reached 25% to 30% of U.S. hospitals by annually training about 700 masters. The masters then go back to their institutions and share the techniques.

Read more about why improving teamwork is good for your patients.

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