Top Nursing Team Building Strategies

Group of nurses in a circle doing a team hand stack
Group of nurses in a circle doing a team hand stack

Nursing is not a solitary profession- and for good reason. Today’s nursing standards focus on providing holistic care, meaning that the patients’ physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are considered. Strong teamwork is important for facilitating effective holistic nursing care. Nurses collaborate with many types of healthcare professionals including physicians, therapists, dietitians, and social workers. However, it is just as important that nurses can work well with other nurses on the team to provide optimal patient care.

Nurses develop their teamwork skills through practice, experience, nursing team building exercises, and higher education such as a Master of Science in Nursing.


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Advantages of Teamwork in Nursing

Teamwork is the result of a shared sense of responsibility and accountability for patient care and patient safety. A lack of teamwork can have dire consequences in healthcare, and may lead to medical errors, “near misses,” and “never events” due to poor coordination and communication between team members.

Strong teamwork in nursing leads to better patient outcomes, better-coordinated care, fewer errors, and higher job satisfaction for nurses. Higher levels of teamwork in the acute care hospital setting have also been noted to improve nurses’ job satisfaction. Better job satisfaction means lower levels of nurse burnout and better staff retention.

How to Promote Teamwork in Nursing

Trust, collaboration, and respect are key aspects of a strong team. Promoting each of these characteristics helps improve teamwork in nursing. If a team is lacking strength in one area, the other areas may also suffer. A nursing unit with poor trust between its staff members will be less likely to collaborate.

Here are a few nursing team building activities to promote teamwork in nursing:

Review the TeamSTEPPS tool

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) created the TeamSTEPPS framework to help boost teamwork and increase the effectiveness of communication among nurses. This model has five key principles for team members to uphold: team structure, communication, leadership, situation monitoring, and mutual support. The TeamSTEPPS framework aids in nursing team building by helping each team member understand the requirements of teamwork. It’s important for team members to be on the same page.

Develop Team Trust

It’s difficult for anyone to trust a person they don’t know well to uphold their role as a team member. Boosting trust within a team can help collaboration. A good way to do this is to help members get to know each other. Nurses can bring in photos of themselves, their hobbies, and their families to post on a board, or even interview one another to get to know about their lives and experiences.

Establish and Reinforce Team Goals

Knowing common goals is essential for a team to work effectively. It helps to have a benchmark result for the team to work toward achieving. An example goal might be reducing the number of falls on a unit, or improving patient satisfaction scores by a certain percentage. If the team reaches the goal, they earn a reward. Visible reminders, such as a calendar with all fall-free days marked, or a graph with patient satisfaction scores, can help keep the team motivated.

Recognize Team Efforts

Receiving recognition for great teamwork helps nurses stay committed to collaborating with others. Even simple, personal thank-you notes acknowledging actions team members took to help teammates keeps motivation strong. It’s always encouraging to know that good work is appreciated.

Leading by Example

The advantages of teamwork in nursing benefit both nurses and patients. Nurses of all experience and education levels can boost teamwork skills in their unit by implementing even one of these team-building strategies. Nurses with a passion for leadership can further learn how to promote teamwork in nursing by obtaining a Master of Science in Nursing and taking their career to the next level as a nurse manager, nurse educator, nurse practitioner, or even a healthcare executive.

Spring Arbor University offers flexible, online MSN programs in nursing education, the nurse practitioner track, and a dual MSN-MBA degree. Contact us to speak to one of our online recruitment advisors and advance your career. 


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Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. (2013). TeamSTEPPS 2.0.

Kalisch, B.J. (2010). Nursing staff teamwork and job satisfaction. Journal of Nursing Management, 18(8), 938-947.

O’Daniel, M., Rosenstein, A.H. (2008). Professional communication and team collaboration. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.