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Playing as a Team Makes a Winning Physicians Practice


What’s true about winning a soccer game is true in winning the game of life, whether your team is your local league or your nursing staff.

You may need to sit down for this one. It is sure to shock you maybe as much as it did me. If you read my blog regularly, you know that each summer and fall I resurrect a high school passion and play on a women’s soccer league. I have the dubious distinction of being one of the least talented players on one of the least successful teams - and I still love it! 

We almost always lose. In fact, I can remember winning one game in the last three years. It’s a truly great victory if we manage to score a goal. Well, something was in the air last night. That something was teamwork. And (drumroll please!) we won! Yes, that’s right - we actually won a game. And, it wasn’t just a fluke. The winning goal (the only one scored during the entire game) was a beautiful two-person goal that was World-Cup worthy.

Having played with these women for the last several years, I know each member’s relative strengths and weaknesses. I know their habits and personalities. What I saw yesterday was a combination of pushing past weaknesses and playing to strengths. We talked on the field and played as a group, not as a haphazard bunch of individuals. In our post-game victory flush, we discussed how getting to the ball first, being more aggressive, and playing a great defense all worked well and allowed us to win.

What’s true about winning a soccer game is true in winning the game of life as well. You have to play as a team - whether that team is your family or your colleagues or your nursing staff. While you need to use your strengths, you also need to push past your innate weaknesses. It’s important to keep your eye on the ball and aggressively pursue the goal - whatever that is for you. When it all works, you are successful.

Today back at work that translates into being more aggressive in getting my patients the healthcare they need but don’t necessarily want, such as colon cancer screening. At home, it reminds me that time is fleeting so chasing my 3-year-old wildly through the house is something to be embraced and not avoided - 3-year-olds grow up too quickly. At home, I remember to compliment my husband on something he does better and better each year - using up all the vegetables from our farm share, even the strange and yucky ones. We actually sit down and look at next month’s calendar to plan ahead.

It also reminds me of the parts where teamwork failed - the patient whose lab work wasn’t drawn before he left the office, the miscommunication with my husband about my call schedule, and the plethora of easy distractions that keep me from focusing on my own goals.

Find out more about Jennifer Frank, MD, and our other Practice Notes bloggers.

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