What Are The Essential Elements of Interprofessional Teamwork?

teamwork  The ability to collaborate in an interprofessional team is an entrustable professional activity (EPA) for undergraduate and graduate medical training, but tools to assess such skills are lacking. The authors of this qualitative study sought out to identify essential elements of team work via focus groups and individual interviews of 4 interprofessioanl teams in outpatient HIV clinics and inpatient pediatric wards- prior work on teamwork had focused on high acuity settings such as intensive care units or operating rooms. Shared leadership, collaborative decision making, recognition of one’s limitations and strengths were among the themes identified that were consistent with prior literature. This study also identified tensions regarding hierarchy and whether doctor leadership is appropriate- a controversial debate that has been raised recently elsewhere. The findings from this study may inform those who are seeking to develop an assessment tool to measure interprofessional teamwork, and may further stimulate discussion about how to structure such teams to function effectively, with or without the physician as a leader. – Sarang Kim, MD.

van Schaik SM, O’Brien BC, Almeida SA, Adler SR. Perceptions of interprofessional teamwork in low-acuity settings: a qualitative analysis, Medical Education 2014; 48(6)583-92

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