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Team Building Activities for Nurses

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Anxiety, anger, guilt, pressure, resentment, and other forms of stress are toxic for nurses and nursing staffs.

While it doesn’t seem like there’s even enough time for day-to-day patient care, life-and-death decisions, and other responsibilities, taking the time to strengthen your team can be harmless at worst and transformative at best.

Yes, team building can start off awkward and uncomfortable (and even counterproductive, if done badly) but recent research confirms that carefully-thought-out “outside-the-hospital” exercises can improve relationships between co-workers, departments, and specialties in healthcare workplaces.

The key is finding an activity that will be enjoyable, unique, and adaptable to your team’s needs and areas that need attention. Here are a few examples, in three levels of increasing unconventionalness:

Practical Team Building Games

Volunteering or charity work can be far more effective for team building than extreme-team-building-experiences such as bungee jumping or other pursuits that don’t involve strategy. In fact, a UK study recently deemed performing acts of service outside the hospital as one of the most effective means of team building.

Mystery diagnosis: In this partial-day activity, a team selects one participant to leave the room and they will be designated as the “doctor” for the game. While the participant is out of the room the rest come up with an ailment, illness, or injury. When the “doctor” returns to the room they have  90 seconds to diagnose and provide a method of treatment. This is a fun game that helps nurses practice their symptoms analysis skills while simultaneously improving their working relationship.

Medical Charades: Take an hour to play this classic party game, with medical-themed words or phrases. Simply write down these different terms such as “IV”, “code blue”, “needle”, “skin cancer”, “blood pressure”, or “MRI” on small pieces of paper. After the nurses are divided into two teams, representatives from each team take turns acting out the item on the paper while their team tries to guess. This game places an emphasis on communication and team cooperation.

Fun Team Building Activities For Nurses

A lot of team building companies are starting to offer such extreme adventures. If you are part of a team that likes to live on the edge, something like riding ATVs or zip-lining may be just the adventures for you.

An oldie-but-goodie, paintball has long been used for team building. It can be awesome, as long as leaders lay-out clear expectations and work with staff to identify how team goals will correlate with a day of make-believe firearm combat.

“Top chef” cook-offs or cocktail creations – Less likely to leave bruises than paintball (unless you have too many cocktails and get too tipsy) and more chance of leaving staff satisfied, this can be an innovative way to turn team dynamics on their heads.

Adventure Based Team Building Activities

If you must look into extreme sports (bungee jumping, bungee swing, slingshot, rope swing, zip line, etc…) as team building exercises, we suggest you watch the following, then work your way back to a local, reputable company, if you have the stomach for it (and think your staff will too.)

Animal encounters – Whether special corporate experiences at major zoos or experiences where companies bring animals to your staff, these team building adventures can be fun (though they can also be controversial, depending on the team and company bringing in the scaled, winged or furry friends.)

The next step up from rock climbing, check out this “high ropes” course for trust and team building…Again, make sure if you choose to do this, you carefully plan and frame how you and your team will connect such an experience with challenges you hope to triumph over in the workplace.

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Contributor Tera Rowland

Tera Rowland is the vice president of Soliant and has worked in the healthcare staffing industry for almost 20 years in public relations, social media, marketing and operations. In addition to Soliant, Tera worked at the Mayo Clinic as an internal communication manager and for the Children’s Miracle Network. She is a member of the American Marketing Association and the American Staffing Association. Also, Tera has served on the board of directors for the Jacksonville Women’s Leadership Forum as part of the communication committee. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Relations as well as a Master of Business Administration in Marketing from the University of North Florida and has been published in the Huffington Post, Healthcare Finance News, Healthcare Traveler Magazine, and Scrubs Magazine. Make sure to read the rest of Tera's blogs!