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Nursing Teams: Behind the Charts

Nurses are renowned for taking care of patients, but what about each other? Researchers from Nursing and ISE believe there is a key social ingredient - based upon mutual support, advice, friendship and other traits – that is critical to the success of nursing teams. 

Jessica Castner, RN, PhD (Nursing), Alex Nikolaev, PhD (ISE) and Kelly Foltz-Ramosargue, RN, MS (Nursing)  will study the theory by working with a team of nurses from Catholic Health System. The theory is based upon a study method called social network analysis, which has been used to help team performance in other industries but is relatively new to nursing.

The research group will ask the nurses about the social dynamics of their team. For example, researchers might want to know who goes to whom for guidance, or whose friendships are the strongest and why. Researchers will then create a computer model, description, and analysis of the team’s “social network.” The information will provide insight on things like overall team connectedness and collaboration capability. The data will boost our understanding of nursing teams and enable the researchers to develop programs that improve how nursing teams work together, scheduling and, ultimately, patient care.

If the hypothesis, that high performing nursing teams demonstrate a different social network than underperforming nursing teams, is supported then work can begin on innovative interventions to help improve patient care in nursing units.