ILR School

Collaborative Caring: Stories and Reflections on Teamwork in Health Care

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Gordon, Suzanne
Feldman, David L.
Leonard, Michael


[Excerpt] There are many theoretical and conceptual books and countless articles that have explored issues of teamwork in general and teamwork in health care in particular. The editors, and many of the authors in this book, have read most, and have even written some of them. To tackle the issue of teamwork, we have, however, taken a different approach. Rather than write a theoretical book about what teamwork is, what it is not, where it exists in health care, what barriers prevent its implementation and how they can be removed, we have chosen instead to address these questions through narratives and reflections that vividly describe good teamwork as well as problems in creating, leading, and working on genuine teams. What we believe is too often lacking in the literature is a clear and compelling picture of what teamwork looks like on the ground, in the institutions where health care work is delivered and where teams play well, or don't play well, on a daily basis. The question we ask here is thus: What is the state of play in most health care institutions? To describe the state of play, we have asked clinicians to write what we think of as "where the rubber hits the road" stories or reflections about the nature of teamwork in their own particular work setting. To gather these stories, we talked to many people in different health care disciplines. In the invitation for submissions we wrote the following: "We are seeking short, concise narratives that describe a concrete example in which you personally have been involved. The idea here is not to focus so much on the individual doctor-patient, nurse-patient, therapist-patient communication but the teamwork that was involved in ensuring that the standard of care was met or exceeded. If the patient or family was involved, so much the better. Stories can deal with interprofessional or intraprofessional teamwork. On balance, we would prefer to have more stories about interprofessional or occupational teamwork. Nonetheless, we recognize that interprofessional work depends on the ability to create teamwork within an occupation or profession. Stories involving support staff, such as housekeepers who spoke up about a patient safety issue, are definitely within the purview of this book. We would also welcome personal reflections that would enhance our understanding of either how to produce genuine teamwork or the obstacles that stand in its way."

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The abstract, table of contents, and first twenty-five pages are published with permission from the Cornell University Press. For ordering information, please visit the Cornell University Press at


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teamwork; health care; clinicians


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