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IF you are ever unfortunate enough to require an operation in hospital there is an interesting exercise you can carry out by noting the number and diversity of people taking care of you. In addition to the obvious necessity of a surgeon and anaesthetist, theatre staff will include an assistant surgeon, operating department practitioner, scrub nurse and any number of support staff. Following surgery your rehabilitation involves a multiprofessional team distributed across an integrated care pathway including the surgeon, theatre recovery and ward nurses, physiotherapists, occupational health practitioners, pharmacists and your GP. The way these healthcare teams work together through complex and challenging tasks for one outcome (a successful operation performed without avoidable errors and associated with a timely recovery) is not accidental but requires planning and attention to the professional capabilities that support effective team work. While every individual has their own professional identity and years of specific training and qualifications behind them, it is increasingly likely that the team (selectively or as a whole) has also participated in training to ensure the overall outcome is more than a sum of its parts.
Much of what we achieve every day in veterinary practice would fail were it not for the presence of a team of people. Evidence from several industries tells us that a team is the best way to resolve a complex problem, such as sick animals (Salas and others 2008), and while veterinary teams …