Travel Nursing Updated October 26, 2022

By Erin Wallace

Team Building Activities for Nursing Units

While travel nursing is a contractor role, achieving optimal patient care takes a team, and sometimes it seems like a village. An effective team of interdisciplinary clinicians works together like a symphony. Everyone has their own role, but when combined well, the results are effective and impressive.

Did you notice the emphasis on “well”? Clinicians can easily be teamed together, but for them to perform well, it takes more than hard skills and years of medical training and experience.

For an effective team, it takes interpersonal skills and familiarity between team members. Communication is key to promoting familiarity, trust, and improved engagement. A way to open the lines of communication and comfortability is to organize teambuilding activities for nursing units.

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5 Team Building Activities for Nursing Units

A sense of community in any nursing unit is crucial because how well a group of nurses communicates, respects, and understands each other ultimately affects patient outcomes.

For some, especially travel nurses who may be living in an unfamiliar area, work may be their only source of community. Use these five team-building activities for nursing units to help build a sense of trust and understanding on your nursing floor and improve patient care.

As an added bonus, these team-building activities boost staff morale and promote job retention.

Modified Scattergories

Suggested by the University of Minnesota's Health Science and department, this team-building activity makes a great icebreaker for groups of nurses who may not know each other that well.

For this game, nurses are divided into teams, usually of two or three people each. A third party randomly picks a letter between A-Z (or you can roll a 26-sided die). This letter dictates what all answers to each category must begin with.

Categories should be determined ahead of time by nursing leaders or other team leads and can be medical in nature, but fun ones can be mixed in as well. Examples include:

  • Things you can swallow but shouldn't
  • Things you find in a hospital/exam room
  • Vaccines
  • Diseases

Each answer that begins with the letter earns one point, with multiple points earned for the letter being used more than once. The team with the most points at the end of a set amount of time wins.

Extend Support to New Staff to Build Morale

When a new nurse joins the floor, senior nursing staff and other colleagues should welcome the new nurse warmly to the nursing unit instead of putting them through the traditional prove yourself” paces.  

Senior staff should have the opportunity to support, train, mentor, and talk to junior staff to help build loyalty, respect, and mutual understanding. A quick-and-easy way to build a connection with a new team member is to schedule one-on-one, quick coffee dates between senior nursing staff and new staff members.

Organize Potluck, Picnics, and Group Dinners

This gives staff a chance to bond outside of work and helps nursing units get to know each other.

If it's too difficult to coordinate schedules when everyone has a day or night off, consider having a potluck during work hours, where everyone contributes a dish, and you can graze on delicious food on and off during your shift.

Icebreaker: Find 10 Things You Have in Common

This is a great team-building activity for larger nursing units because you can divide people into teams of three or four people each.

Each team makes a list of 10 things they have in common with the other people at their table. One notetaker keeps track of the 10 items, and at the end, each group shares its list.

Look for Opportunities to Celebrate

Celebrating staff birthdays, achievements, and other special events is an excellent team-building activity for nursing units. While sharing meals is a great way to encourage socialization and collaboration, other group events like a walk/run for charity can help your nursing unit build camaraderie and give back to the community.

When nursing leaders and other staff supervisors use these five team-building activities for nursing units, they can help foster a productive, collaborative work environment that's built on trust, communication, and understanding.

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