The British are Coming: Some Observations on Health Care Teams
This paper was originally published in the Proceedings of the Fourth Annual Interdisciplinary Health Team Care Conference, which took place September 22-25, 1982 in Lexington, Kentucky. It is reproduced here with the permission of the author.
There is a tendency on both sides of the Atlantic to become preoccupied with one's own problems and interests. As a result, we in the United States have been relatively unaware of the great interest in and experience with teamwork in health care going on in Great Britain and on the European continent. Indeed, my reference to the famous call of Paul Revere, "the British are coming," is not meant to imply that they or their fellow Europeans are just arriving upon the scene, but rather that, in a more accurate historical sense, they have landed in force and are marching in well organized progression towards their objectives. It is we, rather, who must rally our forces and respond.
To support this view, I would like to offer some data gathered in a superficial survey of articles published on health teams in the Journal of the Royal College of General Practitioners over the last six years. Between January 1976 and January 1982, there were a total of 34 papers published in the Journal on the subject of teamwork or collaboration in health care, an average of nearly six per year. During a similar period in the U.S., I doubt if there were that many papers on teams I our professional literature put together. Even more impressive is the fact that the Journal is primarily a physician-oriented, medical organ, since much of the material in the United States has been published in a variety of non-medical disciplinary journals, or by especially interested groups, such as our own.