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Team Building Activities for Nurses

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Effective nursing teams require cohesion, communication and shared goals. Nurses must coordinate with one another to discuss patients' needs in a high-stakes medical environment. Team building exercises for nurses contribute to a sense of unity within a nursing unit while reinforcing core field skills such as patient assessment medication administration. A cohesive nursing team is better equipped to manage emergency medication situations as they arise.

Mystery Diagnosis

Practice symptoms analysis skills while building team relationships through Mystery Diagnosis. Select one participant to leave the room; this participant is the doctor. While she is gone, the group leader selects another participant to play the patient and a third participant to play the nurse. The group leader assigns the patient an illness or injury; the patient must role play the symptoms associated with the disorder. The nurse is in charge of relaying information to the doctor if the patient is unable to speak or falls unconscious. The doctor returns to the room and begins asking assessment questions; if the doctor needs more information, she can ask the nurse to perform a "text" and receive an answer. The doctor has ninety seconds to diagnose the patient and recommend a course of treatment. The activity promote clear, organized communication between doctors, patients and nurses and encourages participants to consider themselves as part of a larger network of resource providers.

Anonymous Positivity

Researcher Wendy Leebov reports that negative comments or gossip from nurses about other staff members impacts efficiency and accuracy in health care settings. Promote positive feedback among nurses through an interactive feedback exercise. Participants write their name on a clean sheet of paper; a partner then tapes the paper to the person's back. Participants then circulate the room leaving specific positive feedback about each person's performance in the workplace. Encourage participants to point out exact incidence when a person performed well; participants may recall a time when a nurse performed CPR on a patient or reported a mistake to a supervisor. At the end of the exercise, allow participants to read their notes and share the most powerful messages with the group.

Medical Charades

Prior to the exercise, prepare several slips of paper with a health, nursing or medical term written on each. Ideas for terms include heart attack, needle, code blue or blood pressure. Divide the group into two teams. Each team sends one representative to the front of the room for a round. One player pulls a slip of paper from a container and shows it to the player from the other team. The lead then initiates a stop watch; each player must act out the item on the paper while his team tries to guess the action or item. The team who guesses correctly first wins one point. Play until all participants have had a chance to act out an item or until a certain point or time limit is reached. Stress the importance of body and movement in communication; discuss team cooperation at the end of the exercise.


Hannah Wahlig began writing and editing professionally in 2001. Her experience includes copy for newspapers, journals and magazines, as well as book editing. She is also a certified lactation counselor. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Mount Holyoke College, and Master's degrees in education and community psychology from the University of Massachusetts.

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