Teamwork in Medicine 

By: Shreya Pandey, Final year , AMA School Of Medicine, Philippines 

Medicine itself is a branch which cannot be relied on one single person. Everyone has their own role to provide the best patient care. From a ward boy to a doctor everyone’s role is essential for the smooth working of the clinical settings.

But are we really taught teamwork in medicine?

Let’s find out.

Competition starts at a very early stage of our lives. From our school time we are taught to compete with everyone and perform better than the rest of all to prove our own capabilities. Therefore you might have seen this often – during exams no one would tell you what they are studying and how they are studying whereas ideally,they should work as a team to solve each other’s doubts and help each other in succeeding. Eventually, we want skilled professionals for growth, but that’s not how it works in the real world.

During your college years you are given numerous group work tasks. But most of the time either that one person is doing the whole group’s work to get the grade or the others would have clashes of opinion and couldn’t accept it.

The main agenda of these group activities are to make everyone understand that in real clinical settings everyone has to perform their roles and there would be clashes of opinion but you have to think about what would work out the best for the patient’s interest keeping aside your own differences. I remember a scenario when I was working as an intern in a hospital in the emergency department. One experienced MBBS doctor and a newcomer MBBS doctor had an argument over a patient as the newcomer doctor thought the diagnosis could be different and we should have a second opinion from another specialist. The experienced doctor retorted that  it’s his patient and mentioned that “TOO MANY CHEFS SPOIL A BROTH” . At that point the new comer doctor replied that in medicine this doesn’t work and I completely agree to it. It should never be just my patient. If a fellow doctor is having a doubt about the diagnosis it’s always best to have a second opinion. It’s not a fundamental rule that the first diagnosis has to be perfect. It’s about someone’s life.

Also teamwork just doesn’t exist between two fellow doctors. A medical team comprises interns ,junior doctors , senior consultants , nursing staff , sweepers and ward boys. But do each one in the team get the same respect? Shouldn’t the team members have equal amounts of respect? But in reality, sweepers, nurses and ward boys are given the least respect after doing most of the work. You can not work in an environment where there is a pool of blood or vomit on the floor. You cannot leave other patients and take one patient to a different world. You cannot check time to time vitals of a patient and administer medicines to them while you have other patients coming and waiting for you. 

That’s why it’s said no single person can change the medical system. It’s the entire team that can do it.

I want to share one of my personal experiences – I went to the USA for a conference and I knew no one in the whole State. I told my fellow student volunteers that I am looking for surgeons to network with. And everyone of them tried their best to find a surgeon in the conference for me as a team and motivated me to talk and network with them. 

In India and in the Philippines where I study with Indians, I had never seen this before. As we are always taught about competition and if you help other fellow mates they are gonna succeed ahead of you. But in the USA I saw no competition, everyone working as a team and helping each other in succeeding in their life irrespective of the country they came from, no matter how intelligent they were. Nothing mattered apart from working as a team and building on each other’s strengths.

That’s how it should be- guiding each other , helping each other out to build the best team for the healthcare system.

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