Anyone who knows us well, knows our sentiment about “our team.” Being branded a team does not in itself make a team, in fact, far from it. The word “team” is overused and in fact often misused. At worst, people can be brought together structurally and be nothing more than folks functioning independently without common goals or vision. Conversely, assemble people who share a common belief in their own ability to create and contribute to exceptional patient outcomes and there you find constituent parts that work as a unified whole. Take a close look at our team and you will quickly recognize how highly interdependent we all are to achieve the results that we do. Everyone wins on our team, most importantly the patient. The Total Joint Replacement Program at St. Joseph’s Hospital consists of clinical and nonclinical people from our office, the hospital, and homecare providers. All of us are critically important to the care that our patients receive and the outcomes that they achieve. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Throughout the years scientists have researched why migratory birds such as geese fly in a V-shaped formation. Recently a team of scientists from France had the opportunity to study great white pelicans that had been trained to fly behind aircraft and boats in preparation for a feature film. The scientists found that the heart rates of these birds dramatically decreased when they were flying together and that they were able to glide for longer periods of time, thus reducing the energy they exerted during their journey. These findings suggest that flight formation evolved as a means to allow birds to reduce their energy expenditure. Birds flying in a V had lower heart rates and experienced less air resistance than birds flying solo. The bird in the lead position of a V formation will experience greater air resistance, will work harder, and fatigue more quickly than the other birds. The flight formation (or team process) then compensates for this. When the lead bird wearies, it falls out of the lead and allows another bird to take its place. This exchange takes only a second or two and is barely evident from the ground. The process of the lead bird changing out each time it becomes exhausted continues throughout the entire migratory journey, with each new bird offering strength along the way. This formation permits all the birds to benefit individually while they work harmoniously as a team.
Like those migratory birds, we all share a portion of ourselves with each other. Each of us is willing to pitch in and do whatever is needed. We share a sense of common goals, open communication, mutual trust, and individual accountability. It truly is a Herculean effort to accomplish what we do.
“Bird Flight Explained,” BBC News World Edition, December 16, 2002.