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What Medical Students Teach: The Healing Skill of Being a Team Player

Abstract: The question, what makes a clinician a healer? may evoke the image of a devoted physician paying a critically important home visit at the end of a long day or the image of an astute nurse—steadfast, empathic, anticipating the patient’s needs before they become apparent to others. But health care is no longer provided by lone doctors or nurses. In the modern health care system, multiple professionals must work together to provide safe and effective care. The moral nature of healing has not changed. But what is required of clinicians to facilitate healing has. To be a healer today, a clinician must be a good team player. Medical students have opened our eyes to this new reality. Building on their observations, we articulate a view that, over and above the role of teamwork in providing technically appropriate care and preventing errors, health care requires teamwork to promote healing. Being a good team player is now a moral imperative because it makes an essential contribution to healing.

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