This essay is a reflection on my experiences of the interprofessional team

This essay is a reflection on my experiences of the interprofessional team working for my group’s presentation titled working with carers in an interprofessional context. This was shaped by concepts taught during the interprofessional context of practice module. Gibb’s cycle of reflection (Bassot, B. 2011) provides a useful framework for this reflection. I will also draw upon Tuckman’s model of team roles to illustrate the roles we played in my group and will critically reflect on areas for further development while acknowledging areas where positive impact was achieved. Interprofessional team work is a complex process in which different professions work together to share expertise, knowledge and skills to impact on patient care (REF). Reflection of this kind will enable me to be better prepared for future teamwork with interprofessions practice (Thompson, S. and Thompson, N. 2008). More so, this is of critical importance to me to understand that the nature of nursing care has always been predicted on an idea of working within a team which is placed on coordinating care within other healthcare professional, not just as a means of caring for patients but also to alleviate the burden associated with frontline care (ref). The essay will conclude with thoughts on lessons learned and their future application. My group had five members, three physiotherapist, one occupational therapist and one student nurse. Apparently the three physiotherapists had established a working relationship and were currently on same place of placement. The occupational therapist had also recorded a good number of working experiences with other health professionals while I, being an international student had little working experiences with other health professionals however, the few experiences I had were mostly at my ward placement. I realised that to become a better and more effective health professional, I will need to develop my skills of working with other groups of professionals to ensure better and high quality of care for my future patients. The first meeting we had was for familiarization, described as the forming stage of team building (Bonebright, D. 2010). It allowed for discussions around each member’s professional interests. One of the physiotherapists volunteered to summarize the activities of the day and to activate the email thread, we setup an email thread – leveraging on information technology – to make communication easy (James, S. 2012). In the initial email discussions, more suggestions and ideas were expressed regarding the tentative topics for our presentation. It was interesting to observe how engaging and motivated all team members were most especially the three physiotherapists. Although, there seems to be some disagreement regarding the topic and scheduled time for meetings mostly between the physiotherapists and the occupational therapist. These events seem to resemble the storming stage of Tuckman’s team development m#odel (Bonebright, D. 2010). I felt the team’s dynamics through our email conversations and observation during our meetings was influenced by the team’s composition, structure and size (ref). Same professions sat together, integrated and interacted with the team and most times they could take over conversations, shared and aired same ideas. This was one of the challenges the team faced. I felt the lack of a team leader who could consolidate points and move them forward affected the meetings input at the beginning (ref). I thought of taking on the role, but I was mindful of damaging the group because sometimes I could take the role too seriously and the fact I had nearly no previous experience working with other health professional discouraged me. Although We had no clear discussions on team roles, goals and aims, we found ourselves been delegated tasks by one of the physiotherapists. This didn’t go down well with me as I felt that tasks should be chosen individually depending what the individual is comfortable in doing for better understanding. More so, I felt that to develop a topic content, team collaboration was very necessary in building up task and structure for our presentation regardless of our different and similar professional roles (ref). Teamworking as recommended by (ref) is a way of providing holistic care for patients through interprofessional skills, experience and knowledge pooled together to produce the best health outcomes for the patient. This was not the case with my team, as I felt the physiotherapists were domineering hence crossing their professional boundaries in the team (ref). Thinking through on these events, I understood that that there are important indicators for successful teamworking which includes, team structure, team size and composition also setting clear goals and objectives for the team at the beginning. (ref) agreed that to create an impact on interprofessional teamworking both on primary and community care in the 21st century then, team structure, size, composition and the availability of organisational support are important indicators of successful teamworking. Within team processes, setting clear goals and objectives for the team, ensuring regular team meetings and effective communication appears to foster effective teamworking (ref). The size and composition of the team was a major contributing factor to the effectiveness, participation and team dynamics (ref). Borrill et al. (2000) found that larger teams were rated by Health Authority management to be more effective in teamworking, although I seem to agree with above study because of the initial difficulty experienced by my team. More so, Borrill et al. (2000) found that teams with greater occupational diversity reported higher overall effectiveness and the and had significantly more impact. Reflecting on this, I thought maybe if my team had more experienced nursing students and occupational therapists then there are chances of fair or equal personalities with the physiotherapists. However, Poulton and West (1999), emphasized in one of the studies carried out that larger teams appear to have lower levels of participation compared with smaller sized teams, which was found to significantly correlate with team effectiveness. more so, a qualitative and ethnographic studies by Molyneux’s (2001) and Rutherford and McArthur’s (2004) supports the findings that smaller sized teams appear to function better than larger teams, since too large a team was reported to be cumbersome. Following this, I believe that my team size played a positive role in the group participation, collaboration and its effectiveness at a later stage of the team. Although we did not outline our aims, goals, and a timeline, we all seemed to have a good sense of the big picture. But this made us lose useful time as we ended up spending so much time duplicating the same information. To illustrate, after selecting our topic, we choose to base our discussion on formal healthcare assistants and the challenges the face working with other healthcare professionals. I thought focusing on formal carers alone will not give us a holistic content for our chosen topic, I had to voice out my concerns which was initially ignored leaving me frustrated. Eventually it became clear to us that we had to include both formal and informal carers to allow us to develop a complete picture for our research and content development. More so, the team finally understood the importance of individual personalities and team collaboration (ref). Each profession was able to narrate and question some practices obtained in their different professional roles and functions, this helped us to develop our topic content within our various professional abilities and where there seems to be an inadequate information or answers to questions asked, team members with adequate experience could fill in the gap. This appears to be the essence of teamworking where diverse and vast experiences are drawn from team members for better outcomes (ref). Although Molyneux (2001) and Rutherford and McArthur (2004) identified that the status of team members has implications for the effective working of the team, as it may inhibit members from participating in the decision-making process and from providing input in team meetings. This appears to be true at the initial stage of teams bonding however, with more clarity on the importance and essence of teamworking and collaboration, team members tried to get to know each other which allowed for adjustments and accommodating individual personalities (ref). Additionally, we never discussed team duties however, team tasks were accomplished by virtue of our team size and individual personalities team participation was very effective, especially when the tasks were around certain set of skills (Carson et al, 2007). For example, sending out emails of each week’s activities and expectations for the following week, on different occasions I found physiotherapist 1 filling the Implementer and Completer-Finisher roles (Belbin, M. 2010).The occupational therapist often shared the coordinator role with physiotherapist 1, however, the occupational therapist appeared to have been more of a Resource investigator (Belbin, M. 2010). The clash in their personalities appears to explain the frequent disagreement between them at the early stage of the team bonding. Presentation graphics and slide layout by physiotherapist 2; physiotherapist 3 and I sometimes held the Team-worker roles almost consistently, although physiotherapist 3 intermittently played the Plant role, generating ideas in a creative way. Initially, I found that I played the Team-worker role (Belbin, M. 2010), then eventually began toggling between Shaper and Monitor-Evaluator, and constantly mindful of the tendency to offend people’s feelings as often seen with shapers (Belbin, M. 2010). Although, we had all assumed some team roles consistent with Belbin’s (2010) team development models. However, it was more interestingly to see how the physiotherapists complimented each other. Hence this could explain why I had perceived the physiotherapists to be domineering at the initial stage. Furthermore, physiotherapist 1, demonstrated good organization skills, and several times served the role of a coordinator, clarifying goals, promoting participative decision-making (Belbin, M. 2010; Watson and Gallag, 2005). Physiotherapist 1 could have made a good leader, although I realised that physiotherapist 1 can be insistent and fixated on certain ideas regardless of the team’s direction. Initially, I had thought that Belbin’s team roles were fixed per person. I therefore found it particularly interesting to find us unconsciously playing multiple roles. Evaluating and analysing on how our team worked after the early stages, I found that effective communication and setting clear boundaries, trust and understanding self and individual personalities were key factors. Though we worked well and trusted each other to complete our tasks (Carson et al, 2007). However, for future purposes I will ensure we communicate better, while emphasising how critical it is for objectives and aims to be discussed, team roles and duties assigned, and timelines drawn to aid time management. In conclusion, IPE has provided me the platform to work with colleagues who have similar values on the health of the patients to share ideas on how patients care, quality and effectiveness on health services could be improved through an effective interprofessional collaboration which is a key factor in delivering high quality care for patients in real practice. Through this, I have gainfully understood the insight into what colleagues from different healthcare professions do and how the contribute to patient care and health services. Looking back now, it might have been helpful if all team members had set out objectives, discuss team roles and duties and possibly draw out a timeline (Bonebright, D. 2010). Additionally, reflecting on how pivotal our email thread became to our communication, this re-emphasises the importance of effective communication which is key in interprofessional context (Kocolowski, D. 2010). More so, a clearly outlined our goals, from the beginning and possibly drawn out a timeline, we could have managed our time better. More so, I am glad that my group provided me the opportunity to experience and understand the dynamics of working with a group of people from diverse backgrounds, with different personalities and emotional competencies. For future purposes, this experience will enable me to demonstrate practical skills in Working in an interprofessional context.

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