National Academy of Medicine

Preparing Health Care and Public Health Professionals for Team Performance: The Community as Classroom

By Corinne Graffunder and Brian Sakurada
April 06, 2016 | Discussion Paper

Today, team-based health care is no longer an innovation or even a choice. Increasingly, providers are using a team-based approach to deliver care, and the complexity of health problems facing many Americans, combined with the specialization of health professionals, makes teamwork and team training essential. This is especially true for dealing with factors that contribute to chronic conditions and for treating people with multiple chronic diseases—a group already comprising one-fourth of all Americans and two-thirds of people of age 65 or older.

For individuals and families, health-related interactions occur in multiple settings. While these interactions often involve physicians and nurses in various disciplines and types of positions, they also involve physician assistants, pharmacists, dietitians and nutritionists, oral health professionals, eye care professionals, podiatrists, rehabilitation therapists, social workers, mental health and substance abuse therapists and counselors, health educators, speech-language-hearing pathologists, along with arrays of technologists and technicians, nursing assistants and aides, facilitators of health insurance coverage and socially aware care, clerks, translators, and administrators. Growing evidence suggests that to achieve the Triple Aim of improving the experience of care, improving the health of populations, and reducing per-capita costs of health care, these health care professionals and workers must function interdependently, supporting and communicating with one another, coordinating services efficiently, and focusing their attention on the whole patient.



Suggested Citation

Graffunder, C. and B. Sakurada. 2016. Preparing Health Care and Public Health Professionals for Team Performance: The Community as Classroom. NAM Perspectives. Discussion Paper, National Academy of Medicine, Washington, DC. doi: 10.31478/201604b


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily of the authors’ organizations, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies). The paper is intended to help inform and stimulate discussion. It is not a report of the NAM or the National Academies. Copyright by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.