Go, Team, Go!

Go, Team, Go!

Written by Kelly Brooks-Staub
Photo by Mike Ciesielski

Teamwork is essential to good nursing – and happy nurses. Read on to see how these Hopkins nurses and students have been honing their teamwork skills – both on and off duty.

(l to r) Luz Cobarrubias, Traditional Class 2008; Laura Adler, Master's program, Family Nurse Practitioner; Dan Young, Accelerated Class of 2007; Natalie Etienne, Traditional Class of 2008; Dennis Jones, Clinical Instructor; Sidney Howell, Traditional Class of 2008; Chris Wright, Traditional Class of 2008

“In the face of a life-or-death crisis, the goal is to help people get back home healthy and safe,” says Luz Cobarrubias, who spent seven years as a SCUBA instructor in Thailand, working in synchronicity with crew members to take experienced divers to deep sea coral reefs. “I encountered some hairy situations during those years,” she says. “I learned that no one person can ensure safety. You have to work as a team.”

“FiFi’s Nasty Little Secret” isn’t a skeleton in Laura Adler’s closet—it’s the name of her Ultimate Frisbee Team. She picked up the sport more than a decade ago, and now plays every Saturday in the Washington Area Frisbee Club (WAFC). Ultimate Frisbee players quickly learn that “the best strategy is to work carefully down the field with everyone participating,” she says. “If you rely on your teammates, it makes your own position stronger.” Her lesson for nursing? “You have to have confidence in your coworkers—so you can work together for the patient’s benefit.”

Dan Young is a founding member of the five-piece band Young & Rollins, whose album Salsa Flamenca occupied a spot on the Billboard charts in 2000. The band has played around the world at venues such as the Sydney Opera House, New Zealand International Arts Festival, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.; its most recent release, Mosaic, came out last April. “The style of music we play is improvised,” says Young. “Everything plays off what everybody else does. We learn trust in other people and to think on our feet.”

Natalie Etienne worked with a team of scientists at Biogen Indec, Inc, testing antibody production in the cells of mice and monkeys. The team’s research—the results of which are slated to appear in an upcoming issue of Nature Structural & Molecular Biology—was part of a study aimed at creating a drug to treat multiple sclerosis. “Although we had a very large team, we knew how to have fun together,” she says. “Communication was key.”

As a critical care flight nurse, Dennis Jones’ mission is to transport patients to the Johns Hopkins Hospital from sites across the mid-Atlantic region—demanding work that requires putting in 24-hour shifts with a paramedic and a helicopter pilot. Says the five-year veteran of the flight program, “To work with each other in time of crisis, there must be clear lines of communication, acceptance of who’s in charge of each task, and a group awareness of what’s going on.”

Sidney Howell’s first job on a construction crew was passing nails to her father and brothers as they built a hay barn for their farm. Years later, Howell went on to lead the crew as she made her living buying, renovating, and selling homes in Alaska and Florida. “In construction, if you get off just  inch, you can end up with a six-inch mistake,” she says. “Keeping the final product in mind can save time and money. It’s the same in nursing, except that the cost of a mistake is human.”

“In football, everybody’s roles vary greatly. If just one person messes up, it can bring down the team,” says Chris Wright, who played football at Johns Hopkins University until an injury sidelined him his senior year. “It’s the same in nursing. Nurses, doctors, techs, therapists—everyone has to do his or her part.” Wright is certainly willing to do his part: as a senior, he stayed on with his team as an athletic trainer.

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