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Teaching people how to work in a team helps them
Development of a Team Performance Scale to Assess Undergraduate Health Professionals. Sigalet E et.al. Academic Medicine 2013 88:989-996
Reviewed by Janet Meller


What was the study's question?
Is it possible to develop a tool to adequately evaluate team based performance during simulation activities?

How was the study done?
The authors developed a tool to assess the level of team performance, the KidSIM Performance Scale. This tool was based on the Clinical Teamwork Scale and the Mayo High Performance Teamwork Scale. The scale was then used to evaluate the team performance of undergraduate health professionals. Participants were undergraduate medical students, nursing students and respiratory therapy students. Each team consisted of 1 medical student, 3-4 nursing students and a respiratory therapy student. The teams were divided into a comparison group and an intervention group. Students in the intervention group received a 30-minute formal team training module in addition to the two scripted 20 minute simulations with facilitated debriefing. Simulation sessions were video-recorded and then scored by evaluators from medicine, nursing and respiratory therapy who were trained in the use of the scale.

What were the results?
All teams performed better on their second simulation than the first, but teams who had participated in the team training session did significantly better than the others at both times. The reliability for the total scale was very high (α=0.9) and was particularly strong in evaluating whether team members knew their roles and responsibilities and how well they communicated with each other.

What are the implications of these findings?
Because of evidence linking effective team performance to patient outcomes, team based learning and IPE activities have become an important part of the educational mission of academic medical centers. Unfortunately, without appropriate tools to assess the success of IPE activities, it is difficult to know what impact is being made by including these in the curricula of undergraduate medical professionals.

Editor's note: With the large number of competencies that fill our lists of items to teach our students, it is always lovely to find a published tool that can actually add some rigor to the way we do assessments in previously murky areas. The most promising use of tools like this are likely to allow students to get objective and reliable feedback on their teamwork skills, which would be expected to be just beginning to emerge in medical school, and to foster self-reflection and improvement in this critical area (LL).

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