Leadership and Conflict - The Failure of Participatory Democracy on Rehabilitation Teams
This paper was originally published in the Proceedings of the Ninth Annual Interdisciplinary Health Team Care Conference, which took place September 10-12, 1987 at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. It is reproduced here with the permission of the authors.
In contrast to most medical areas, rehabilitation specialists profess to be comprehensive — dealing with medical and physical issues along with a host of psychological, social, and vocational concerns. The team members usually include a nurse, physician, psychologist, social workers, speech therapist, physical therapist, and an occupational therapist. Not uncommonly, prothetists, orthotists and vocational counselors will be involved. These different professionals offer the unique training and insight necessary for comprehensive rehabilitation.
Despite the admirable accomplishments which have been made for the health care of the physically disabled and the use of a comprehensive team approach, many problems are encountered with the team approach to rehabilitation.
A certain paradox arises between the stated importance of rehabilitation teams and their actual functioning. A brief survey of five standard texts of physiatry, the medical specialty of rehabilitation medicine, revealed few references to team management or team care. Important issues such as leadership, communication and conflict are rarely if ever acknowledged as issues worthy of more investigation and discussion in the standard medical rehabilitation textbooks. The importance of a team approach in rehabilitation appears to be accepted more on faith than on research and discussion. This paper will attempt to explore some of these important issues on rehabilitation teams.