Everywhere you look in academic medicine today major initiatives are underway that require fundamental changes in the way people work together. Effective teamwork takes a lot more than a group of individuals skillfully carrying out their specialized tasks. It requires interdependence: the ability of the team members to develop a system perspective, to understand how their respective work processes intersect, and to be responsive to each others changing needs and circumstances. What’s more, they need to be able to do this in real time, under conditions of performance pressure and uncertainty.
Brandeis University professor Jody Hoffer Gittell developed a theory of interdependent functioning called Relational Coordination (RC). This body of research has been used to demonstrate that teams or organizations with a high level of RC achieve higher quality, work more efficiently, better satisfy their customers/patients, and enjoy greater worker satisfaction and resilience. RC is now being used extensively to improve teamwork and performance worldwide in healthcare settings.
On February 2nd I will be attending the AAMC workshop Maximizing Interprofessional Teamwork in Clinical Care, Education and Research at the AAMC Learning Center here in Washington, DC. This one and a half day workshop will be facilitated by two experts in healthcare and Relational Coordination – Anthony Suchman, MD, MA and Diane Rawlins, MA, LMHC. The learning objectives of the workshop are:
- Recognize the importance of interdependent functioning in achieving higher team performance, efficiency and satisfaction
- Describe the seven factors that enable individuals or workgroups to effectively coordinate their work
- Identify a framework and specific approaches for applying the theory of RC to improve the results of cross-functional, interprofessional and/or interdisciplinary teams
I hope to apply what I learn at the workshop to my work with the diverse group of healthcare professionals at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.