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Team nursing is a model that utilizes a team approach to care for patients in the acute care setting. In this lesson, we will review the definition, pros, and cons of the team nursing model, and look at some examples.

What Is the Team Nursing Model?

Team nursing is a model in which a group of healthcare professionals, including nurses, care for a group of patients in the acute care or inpatient setting. Acute care, also known as critical care, is when nurses help patients confronting life-threatening issues. This model came about in the 1950s and 1960s in a response to the increasing shortage of nurses due to World War II and nurses leaving hospitals.The team usually consists of a charge nurse or team leader (also a nurse), more nurses, and patient care technicians or nurse’s aides. The charge nurse is responsible for assigning patients to the team members, as well as being knowledgeable about the patients and their plans of care.

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The nurses who are assigned to the patients delegate tasks to the patient care technicians or nurse’s aides within their scope of practice to assist in the care of the patients. Each team is responsible for five to six patients, depending upon the setting and staffing.If you’ve ever been a patient in a hospital, you may have had two people caring for you at a time (a nurse and a patient care technician, or nurse’s aide) each performing certain types of tasks in order to complete orders from the healthcare provider and help you recover from illness or injury. This is considered team nursing.

Pros of Team Nursing

Every member of the team brings something important to patient care in the team nursing model. The working shift is started out with a conference involving the team leader or charge nurse, assigned nurse, and patient care technician or nurse’s aide. During this conference, the team discusses the patients and their plans for care.Some of the main pros of the team nursing model include:

  • The strengths of all healthcare professionals are utilized in order to provide the best care possible.
  • Each patient receives individualized care, which has been shown to improve patient outcomes and patient satisfaction.
  • Each team member is able to perform the skills at which they excel, which helps with job satisfaction and patient safety. This also provides the nurse with time to document care in the health record.

  • The patients are given the most comprehensive care and every member of the team can contribute to decision making.

Have you worked on a team where every member contributed, participated, and completed the task in a timely manner? It was a great feeling, wasn’t it? Imagine being a patient on a team nursing floor where all the members of the healthcare team contributed, participated, and met your every need.

Cons of Team Nursing

Team nursing can also be challenging due to the fact that communication and delegation are necessary with this model. In contrast with the primary nursing model, where a single nurse maintains patient care, the assigned nurse in the team model delegates tasks to the patient care technician or nurse’s aide such as performing vital signs, bathing, drawing blood, performing ECGs, and other such skills within their scope of practice.Some of the main drawbacks to the team nursing model include:

  • The nurse remains responsible for the duties being performed without performing them personally.

    This takes time away for the nurse from the assigned patients.

  • Assigning staff with this model can be challenging, because the staff competencies must meet the patient’s needs.
  • All members of the team must also be focused on the patient and his or her needs.

Have you ever worked with a team in which you didn’t know someone or one member didn’t contribute to the work? The same problems can arise in team nursing. One person can cause increased work for the other team members, but in this case patient safety is at risk.

Examples of Team Nursing

You are on the medical surgical floor of a hospital. The floor has 26 beds with 20 patients currently filling them. The staffing includes a charge nurse, five bedside nurses, and six nurse’s aides. One nurse sits at the front desk and monitors ECGs, answers the phone, answers call lights, and keeps track of patient admissions and discharges in the computer.

The other five nurse’s aides are paired up with the bedside nurses to care for the patients. Each nursing team is assigned four patients for which they provide care together. The bedside nurse completes nursing assessments, administers medications, documents care, and delegates tasks to the nurse’s aides. The nurse’s aides complete bathing, vital signs, lab work, and assist the patients in the activities of daily living (getting out of bed, walking in the halls, brushing teeth, etc.).

If your assigned nurse is busy with another patient and you call for pain medication, another nurse will administer your pain medication.Your family member is in the intensive care unit. There are 10 beds in the unit with eight patients currently. Staffing includes a charge nurse, five bedside nurses, and three nurse’s aides. One nurse’s aide sits at the front desk and performs the tasks similar to the medical surgical floor. The other two nurse’s aides are assigned to the patient rooms to assist in care. Three bedside nurses are assigned two patients each, and two bedside nurses are assigned one patient each in case there is an admission.

As on the medical surgical floor, if your assigned nurse is busy another nurse can tend to your family member’s needs.As you can see, team nursing can vary depending on the unit and the needs of the patients. The most important thing to understand is that healthcare workers function as a team.

Lesson Summary

The team nursing model involves members of the healthcare team caring for patients. There are pros and cons to this model, from individualized care to making sure staff are competent to provide care. Team nursing varies according to the type of inpatient unit and patient complexity.

As the patient mix and staffing mix vary, so does the team nursing model.

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