Welcome Guide for Frontline Providers
Welcome to the TeamSTEPPS® curriculum.
TeamSTEPPS (Team Strategies & Tools to Enhance Performance & Patient Safety) supports many users with various levels of TeamSTEPPS knowledge. This Welcome Guide calls attention to information of particular interest to frontline providers and others who work as members of healthcare teams in direct patient care. Those who are TeamSTEPPS trainers, including those who instruct preprofessional students (e.g., medical, nursing, or pharmacy students), may also want to review the guidance documents written for new or experienced trainers.
If you are directly involved with rolling out TeamSTEPPS 3.0 to others in your unit or facility, review the Welcome Guide for Administrators and pay particular attention to the implementation resources contained in Section 4 in the four modules of the TeamSTEPPS 3.0 curriculum.
The TeamSTEPPS 3.0 curriculum addresses the needs of the 21st century healthcare workforce. This document highlights the key aspects of the TeamSTEPPS 3.0 course most applicable to frontline providers.
What Is TeamSTEPPS?
TeamSTEPPS, an evidence-based program, is designed to optimize the performance of healthcare teams. Effective teamwork and communication are foundational to providing every patient with high-quality, safe care throughout the healthcare system. TeamSTEPPS 3.0 has been developed in consultation with experts in teamwork and team training that included patients and family caregivers. It is guided by emerging research related to teams, team performance, communication, and adult learning, as well as input from frontline providers in care settings including hospitals, long-term care facilities, and outpatient practices.
Based on this guidance, five major emphases are reflected in the current version of the curriculum.
- Patient Focus: How to involve patients and family caregivers in care processes and decision making is an important consideration for patient safety. Patients and family caregivers should be directly involved in care teams' discussions. Examples, teaching approaches, and other resources in the curriculum are designed to reinforce this focus. The curriculum also considers additional communication and patient engagement methods, such as patient portals and telehealth tools and technology.
- Integrated TeamSTEPPS Platform: TeamSTEPPS 3.0 consolidates content from prior versions of the curriculum created for separate care settings and incorporates it into a single, integrated resource.
- Modular Course Design: TeamSTEPPS 3.0 can be taught in sessions of varying lengths. However, extended trainings can exceed attention spans or take staff away from other responsibilities for too long. A series of shorter trainings, or even a single shorter training addressing a specific need, may more effectively meet the needs of both TeamSTEPPS students and their organizations. Shorter sessions may also be easier to facilitate while using virtual or hybrid trainings.
The TeamSTEPPS 3.0 curriculum is structured to enable frontline providers to learn individual key concepts or tools without the need to cover all parts of the curriculum. Instructors are provided with guidance that will help them focus on the tools most relevant to the settings, challenges, and staff that TeamSTEPPS course participants are likely to encounter.
- Active Learning Strategies: The use of passive learning methods (e.g., listening to lectures) is less likely to produce sustainable changes in attitudes and behaviors of frontline staff compared with active learning strategies, which today's workforce expects. The curriculum is designed to provide a variety of options for helping you learn or teach TeamSTEPPS 3.0, using discussions, exercises, video-based simulations, and other approaches that you can actively engage in. If you are reviewing materials on your own, take time to review all the learning options.
- Emerging Team Challenges and Opportunities: Technology changes such as high-speed internet, instant messaging, and telemedicine are accompanied by an evolution in the workforce, which is more diverse and multigenerational. TeamSTEPPS focuses on maximizing patient safety and makes connections between effective teamwork and the well-being, job satisfaction, and reduced burnout of frontline care providers. The curriculum calls attention to the ways a more diverse workforce can benefit team functioning.
If you and your peers respect and support colleagues whose backgrounds, politics, ethnicity, or other characteristics differ from your own, the team will be able to better understand and address the needs of their increasingly diverse patient populations. The curriculum includes exercises and examples that incorporate newer communication technologies and can be tried out to directly experience how they affect communication with others. The team discussions include virtual teams and teams consisting of staff from multiple units or even multiple organizations that provide care to chronically ill or medically complex patients. Reinforcing the importance of these less visible but often critical teams can help you and your peers function in them more successfully.
Why TeamSTEPPS Matters
As a frontline provider, you directly see the impact of poor communication and ineffective team leadership on patient safety, organizational efficiency, and staff morale, burnout, and turnover. Material in the Introduction reviews these connections and demonstrates the value TeamSTEPPS 3.0 offers to both your teams and you.
- TeamSTEPPS 3.0 tools help you to better cope with the stressors you face and to support your patients and peers.
- The expanded uses of communication technologies and electronic health records often pose challenges for some frontline providers. The curriculum provides relevant technical assistance to anyone who needs help in this general area.
- Public health emergencies have affected worker safety, family and other life routines, workplace protocols, and workloads and have contributed to tensions among staff with different life views. TeamSTEPPS 3.0 tools and concepts can help you to better understand these risks and how to constructively cope with them.
- Changes in the job market linked to public health emergencies have expanded worker shortages, increased employee turnover, and undercut workplace stability. TeamSTEPPS 3.0 can help you manage challenges arising from rapid changes in teams.
- Levels of trust and mutual respect needed for effective team functioning can be threatened in teams with more diversity unless the differences are identified, directly acknowledged, and treated as an asset rather than an inconvenience.
- The expanded functionalities available in electronic health records risk an overdependence on technologies to facilitate care coordination at the expense of handoffs and other recommended practices for providing safe care to patients.
- Collectively, all these factors contribute to fatigue and burnout that create additional challenges for teams and risks for patients. TeamSTEPPS 3.0 can assist in addressing these.
How To Approach the TeamSTEPPS 3.0 Curriculum
Approaches to the TeamSTEPPS 3.0 curriculum focus on acknowledging one's own barriers to learning, embracing the positive aspects of incorporating new teamwork and communication strategies into practice, and recognizing the patient focus as the purpose of learning new skills.
- Acknowledge at the start that people may be stressed, distracted, and tired and that these factors can affect how well and quickly one can learn how to use TeamSTEPPS 3.0 tools. A 2020 survey of U.S. health workers found 38 percent reporting anxiety or depression, 43 percent reporting work overload, and 49 percent reporting burnout. These conditions make providing quality care even more challenging and effective teamwork even more important.
- While reflecting on patient harms that resulted from systemic and teamwork failures can have value, consider positive experiences that highlight the value of effective teamwork.
- It is easy to attend training sessions mechanically and "complete" them without much benefit. The use of active learning methods in the curriculum is designed to foster deeper engagement in the course.
- If patients or family caregivers are participating in the training, their stories of experiences with their care teams can remind you of how effective teamwork has changed their lives for the better and of how important it is.
Evidence of TeamSTEPPS's Value
The TeamSTEPPS 3.0 curriculum reflects published and gray literature reviewed as of December 2021. A summary of this literature is included in the Evidence Base section of the website, and key publications are reflected throughout the curriculum.
For updates on research related to teamwork and its components, use the AHRQ Patient Safety Network (PSNET) website, which highlights new literature on a range of safety topics, including teamwork, communication, and safety culture. Use PSNet to monitor emerging insights on these topics and incorporate them into your daily work of caring for patients.
How To Use the TeamSTEPPS 3.0 Curriculum
- The curriculum includes examples, exercises, videos, and other resources directly relevant to specific clinical settings (long-term care, office practices, rapid response systems, etc.) and to diverse types of team participants (patients, support staff, administrators, etc.).
- Several Welcome Guides are available, each focusing on a unique TeamSTEPPS role. If you are also a frontline provider or work to implement TeamSTEPPS3.0, other Welcome Guides may contain useful ideas.
- The Introduction includes foundational information on why patient safety can never be taken for granted, why safety culture and effective teamwork are essential, and how TeamSTEPPS enhances patient safety.
- The TeamSTEPPS 3.0 curriculum is organized into four modules:
- Each module has three sections:
- Section 1: Overview of Key Concepts and Tools. Provides a quick overview. It can help identify information of particular interest or provide a quick review of available tools. The TeamSTEPPS 3.0 Pocket Guide aligns with Section 1.
- Section 2: Explanation of Key Concepts and Tools. Provides a deeper review of the concepts and tools included in the module. This section includes textual explanations as well as alternative ways to learn about these tools and concepts through videos, examples, case studies, etc. Resources for learning are drawn from multiple clinical settings and involve a variety of team members and both in-person and virtual teams. This approach is designed to help TeamSTEPPS 3.0 users identify resources directly relevant to their situations.
- Section 3: Teaching the Key Concepts and Tools. Includes instructor resources and rationales. If you are attending a TeamSTEPPS 3.0 training, this section may not be critical for you to review. But if you are learning about TeamSTEPPS 3.0 on your own, some instructor resources may provide deeper insight into how tools can be used and why their use is critical.
- Implementation Resources. Includes resources that will be relevant to people responsible for implementing TeamSTEPPS 3.0 (or parts of it) in a unit or organization. This section also includes teaching suggestions related to implementation topics. These suggestions may help expand your knowledge of key implementation processes and enable you to teach or guide their use within your organization.