How to Build Strong Nursing Teams

nurse with patient


Nursing is not a solitary profession. To provide care for a patient’s spiritual, emotional and physical needs, strong teamwork is required.

Nurses also have to work with other healthcare professionals, such as social workers, dietitians, therapists, and physicians, on a regular basis.

It is important for nurses to develop strong teamwork skills through the right education, team-building exercises and practice to provide optimal care to patients.

Teamwork is Crucial in Healthcare

Teamwork can make a significant difference in healthcare and other industries. In healthcare, teamwork provides better results, such as improved patient satisfaction, outcomes, and efficiency. Nurses who work well together in strong teams experience greater job satisfaction. According to the National Academy of Medicine, teamwork is linked to lower burnout levels and higher levels of engagement in healthcare.

When nursing teams are faced with communication problems and interpersonal conflict, the results can be negative. Teamwork failures and communication issues can lead to reduced patient care quality and may even result in serious medical errors. This goes to show that teamwork is crucial in nursing, and it can make a noticeable difference in healthcare organizations, teams and individuals.

Eleven Strategies for Building Strong Nursing Teams

Building strong nursing teams helps organizations prepare to overcome the most difficult challenges. Here is a look at several strategies that healthcare leaders can employ to promote teamwork and improve the efficiency of their teams.

1. Promote camaraderie

When people spend a lot of time together, they build friendliness, trust, and camaraderie. This is an important element of teamwork. Nursing team members must work together to find things they have in common other than work. When they connect over their love for things such as hobbies, they will find it easier to truly understand each other. Find ways to spark interactions between healthcare employees other than work so they can connect at a deeper level.

2. Gratitude

Healthcare leaders can serve as role models for nurses. Showing gratitude toward other team members can make them feel appreciated and valued. This behavior will then be emulated by everyone else on the team. When teams have a collective culture of gratitude, it can make a noticeable difference in the mindset of everyone on the team. Grow this culture by expressing your gratitude to team members for what they do every day.

3. Break down department barriers

In healthcare, silos often exist between departments as well as between roles such as technicians, physicians and nurses. Departments sometimes forget that they all work together for the same patients and they are all valuable when it comes to patient care. Recognizing people in other departments and appreciating the work they do can break down these barriers. Openly appreciating the work of other departments, such as nutrition, radiology, and pharmacy, is a good way to remind nursing team members that the ultimate goal is providing a positive patient experience. It will also remind them that nursing is not the only team that matters and that stronger healthcare teams go beyond a single department to strengthen the entire healthcare organization.

4. Avoid communication issues

One of the main reasons teams face problems is communication issues. Leaders want to be problem-solvers and often jump in to resolve disagreements between team members. However, it is important to avoid the communication triangle because it weakens trust and leads to unhealthy behaviors. For better team communication, leaders should coach their team members to address behaviors directly and promote assertive communication. Encourage team members to resolve issues by talking to each other in real time instead of approaching leaders and managers. In most cases, this will improve results and will provide employees with the tools they need to communicate effectively.

Communication skills are often an important part of the curriculum in nursing programs like the Master’s in Nursing-FNP from Walsh University. The program also equips students with the competency they need to provide quality care to families and individuals in all age groups.

5. Appreciate individuals for who they are

Nurses are individuals, and when leaders show that they care about them, it makes a difference. Nurses will be more willing to accept feedback and improve their skills if they feel they are seen and heard. Nursing leaders should spend time individually with each employee to ask questions and get to know them on a personal level. Learn what really matters to each individual, welcome their feedback, and incorporate it wherever possible. Support team members and accommodate them to show your appreciation.

6. Encourage self-care

Healthcare workers spend each day caring for others, but it is important for them to focus on their own health and fitness as well. To build strong healthcare teams, leaders should provide their staff with the programs, tools and resources they need for self-care. This can instill trust, increase retention, decrease burnout, and boost morale.

When left unattended, negativity can spread throughout teams, so it is important to encourage well-being, resilience and positivity in teams. Burnout has increased in nursing significantly since the pandemic, so leaders should check in with their team members to ensure they are doing enough to care for themselves. Share what you are doing to take care of yourself so employees will be motivated to incorporate wellness into their lives.

7. Provide constructive feedback

Strong nursing teams consistently strive to improve themselves and their organizations. Everyone has an important role to play in the organization. Receiving and providing constructive feedback is a powerful tool for creating respectful, professional and high-performing teams.

Embrace feedback to improve how teams work together. Leaders should set the tone by asking for feedback on their own performance. Discuss which tasks need to be done as a team, things that can be done better, and what needs to change. During huddles, check with each individual to learn more about what they are working on. Establish a culture in which receiving and giving feedback is natural to build a strong healthcare team.

8. Establish trust and openness

Nurses should feel comfortable discussing difficult topics, such as challenging patients or workplace treatment. This openness can help teams to work together to find solutions to problems. It is also important to ensure that teams do not give into gossiping because it can undermine trust. For leaders in nursing, it is an important balancing act to create the tone for the entire unit. Be candid with employees and encourage them to be open.

9. Clearly define each role

For teams to perform better, each person should have a well-defined role. When everyone knows exactly what to do, it is easier for them to perform their job well. Without clearly defined roles, overachievers in the team end up taking on too much and will eventually burn out.

Every team member’s role should be clearly defined so they know what they need to do and how to perform each task. Clear communication plays a crucial role here. Broadcasting roles, responsibilities, and expectations ensures that nurses don’t have to guess what to do as they’ll know exactly what their managers want from them.

10. Resolve conflicts

For nursing leaders, dealing with conflicts on a regular basis can be exhausting, dramatic and messy. It is often easier to ignore conflicts than deal with them head-on. Ignoring conflicts will eventually set the stage for bigger arguments and problems in the future. It festers tensions and can have a negative impact on the work of nurses.

Encourage nurses to address issues directly with their co-workers instead of involving a manager right from the start. Nurses should also be encouraged to discuss things clearly and stand up for themselves when needed. Leaders should make themselves available to act as a mediator if team members are not able to resolve conflicts on their own. Staying on top of conflicts and resolving them as early as possible will ensure that they do not negatively impact team morale.

11. Encourage learning

Everyone makes mistakes in their career, regardless of how much experience they have. Instead of shaming or punishing nurses for their mistakes, take the time to understand why and how these mistakes occurred. Encourage team members to learn from these mistakes and find solutions so they can avoid making the same mistakes in the future. Leaders should show empathy to their team members and understand that mistakes are natural. Every mistake is a learning moment. To encourage nurses to improve, it is helpful to gently point them in the right direction so they can handle things differently in the future.


Nursing leaders play a vital role in setting the tone for the entire team. With the right team-building strategies and clear communications, it is possible to cultivate a culture of respect, development and efficiency in nursing teams to benefit the entire healthcare organization.

About Theresa Duncan

Originally from Detroit, MI, Theresa has been offering health and fitness advice for the last 30 years while working as an engineer. She decided to turn her passion into a profession, and finds nothing more satisfying than helping others reach their health and fitness goals.

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