Sunday, August 8, 2010

Teamwork

I would like to diverge, for a moment, from my discussion on the history of veterinary technology and discuss the concept of teamwork. What is teamwork, really, and why is it important? And, in keeping with the focus of this blog, what does it have to do with veterinary technology in the 21st century?

The following is an excerpt from the NDT Resource Center :

Teamwork is defined in Webster’s New World Dictionary as “a joint action by a group of people, in which each person subordinates his or her individual interests and opinions to the unity and efficiency of the group.” This does not mean that the individual is no longer important; however, it does mean that effective and efficient teamwork goes beyond individual accomplishments. The most effective teamwork is produced when all the individuals involved harmonize their contributions and work towards a common goal. (“Teamwork”, para.1)

Sometimes my students don’t understand when I harp on the concept of teamwork. Sometimes I see confusion in their eyes when they hear me tell them that just showing up is not enough. I know they drive a long way, rearrange their schedules, do their homework…I know how hard they work but more is still required. Teamwork requires a lot of heart; it requires accepting that you may not always see the results of your actions right away and it requires belief in the common goal. In reading about the history of veterinary technology it is easy to see we would not even have this profession without that kind of faith in what could be.

Where ever you see a veterinary technician you are actually seeing the hundreds of people who had a hand in getting that individual to their goal. The educators, the association members, the classmates, the family members, the mentors, the textbook authors…those who may have helped process some random piece of paperwork or somebody who bought lunch after a long day of field work. All these people, and more, worked in some way, on that person’s behalf, toward the common goal of creating a licensed technician. Each one of those people set aside their own personal needs of the day to unite with others and “harmonize their contributions”.

Being part of team is NOT the same as being a member of a group. The key to the difference lies in the ability to recognize and support a clear, common goal. Team members are unified, behave collaboratively (as opposed to individually), have high standards and support their leaders. It takes time and effort to turn a group into a team. Team members care about and support each other even when they don’t like each other. Team members do not hold themselves as superior to anyone, rather each recognizes the strengths and weaknesses present in the team and then seek to weave those strengths and weaknesses together to form a strong fabric of excellence.

So what is the common goal, the excellence that all veterinary team members should strive for? That goal is Veterinary Technology as a strong, united and proud profession which serves humanity through the care of animal populations worldwide.

I was asked recently what stimulated my interest in so many of the new career trends of the 21st century. My answer is simply this: I see nothing but possibilities for veterinary technicians. I see the possibility through shelter medicine, food safety, education, research and public health, to name just a few, that technicians can make this world a better place.

I will end by quoting one of the greatest individuals who ever graced the planet because I think that maybe Mahatma Gandhi actually defined teamwork better than anyone ever could when he urged us to “be the change we want to see in the world”.

19 comments:

  1. What a note worthy cause: Veterinary Technology is a strong, united and proud profession which serves humanity through the care of animal populations worldwide.

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  2. Learning to work as a team takes patience and more effort than I would ever have imagined. Putting aside personality differences, learning to "bite your tongue", recognizing the strengths in others, and working together for a common goal are disciplines that we need reminding of. I am thankful for your inspiration, Bonnie.

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  3. My first "real" job was the best job I've had to date. In hind-site I can see it was because we were a strong team. Everyone supported each other and worked together. And that went from my entry level position all the way to the president of our plant. It allowed me to grow and really love my job. I can't wait to form a team with my new classmates and later co-workers! Thanks for a very inspirational post Bonnie!

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  4. My entire life I have played on a sports team but I must admit that it was nothing compared to the team work it has taken me as a veterinary technician student. Someone wise once told me that to be a good team player requires more then just showing up to class, there has to be a passion for the goal.. Thank You Bonnie

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  5. My entire life I was raised in a "team" setting. My dad is a firefighter and that means our family has to always band together to form our own little team through all of the hard times. Our fire family has to all work together, the wives and children give each other a support group while the firefighters work together to bring each other home to their own familes safe and alive. This post was very inspirational and I do believe that with teamwork vet techs can not have any boundaries!
    Ashley Reilly :)

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  6. So many things in life are accomplished by the efforts of a team. I believe that the synergistic properties of several people working in unison toward a common goal is not only efficient, it is effective. When you have more than one mind striving to solve a problem, it is more easily solved because you have more than one point of view.
    I personally enjoy working as part of a team. The workload is shared and so are the successes as well. Unity is truly the goal and the key to working as part of a team!

    Thanks for the insight,

    Shelly Hernandez

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  7. I very much agree with how important team work really is. I'm so glad you explained it the way you did Mrs. Loghry, I don't believe I would have fully understood it any other way. I never thought about how so many help others in so many way. How you used the example of a teacher teaching the student, the authors of the books the student read, and even the city bus driver who helped get the student to school every day; they pitched in one way or another to help that student reach their goal. Thank you so much for the valuable information.

    Sincerely,
    Sarah Leon

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  8. Professor Loghry,

    I have learned through so many experiences in my lifetime that fighting against a team will get you know where. One thing that stood out most to me in this blog was when you said, “The key to the difference lies in the ability to recognize and support a clear, common goal”. When working in an environment where everyone is working towards the same thing, in this case the health and happiness of the patients, you have to do just that and be as one. I have had multiple experiences in the past where I and another co-worker just simply did not get along, making it impossible to work together. My mistake in both situations was to not look at the individual as my superior or subordinate. Not too look at them in a negative personal sense. But to accept that we were both there to do the right thing. In both cases it was for an Ophthalmologists office, and we both lost focus that the patients needed the attention, and that our negativity reflected on our work environment. Both situations ended well when we talked to figure out that we didn’t have to be friends, but team members working to help the greater good, helping people see.

    Thank you,

    Jaclyn Pierce

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  9. Teamwork is so very important, especially in the Veterinary "world".I really do no think the job would get done, if not for the team members working together (as a team) to do the job(s) at hand.
    My fiance and I are a team and we must work together to keep everything running smoothly. We have a son, 2 and a half, a small "gang" of animals, and 1 acre of property. We absolutely must work together, (along with my father-in-law)to keep everything watered, fed, trimmed mowed, and so on. I really do understend teamwork and am excited to be part of another team.Thank you for the blogs.

    Amanda Carter

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  10. I also agree with how important team work is. Almost every aspect of my life depends on teamwork. During my high school years I would usually dread having to work as a team. I felt like I would have to do the work of my fellow team mates because you can't always be teamed up with someone interested in doing their part. I realize now that our teamwork should have been more then just working together, but rather supporting and helping each other so that everyone does their share. Now that I'm married I depend on teamwork with my husband to help take care and build our lives. Its not always easy for us but we know teamwork is a learning process and each day it gets better as we continue to learn.

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  11. Bonnie -

    I think you're insights on teamwork are especially relevant to many of us starting out in this program. We all enter with different life experiences and expectations, and many of us aren't sure what to expect. It may be easy to become soley focused on our own success. We also enter with our own unique challenges. For some it may be geographical, others financial, scholastic or just plain old life. I believe that teamwork can help us all to succeed.

    I especially agree with and echo your emphasis the "being part of a team is NOT the same as being part or a group". The idea of team unification and collaboration is very important.

    I think the saying "a team is only as strong as it's weakest member" (modified, I believe, from "a chain is only as strong as its weakest link") is very true. In a team setting, one persons weakness may be anothers strength. If we all employ teamwork, I believe we can become a strong, cohesive, and successfull class of 2010.

    Thank you for the insight, Maureen Bishop

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  12. Bonnie,
    You have made some very important points. Everything done at work, school or everyday life requires teamwork. One person doing all the work and another taking the credit is not a team. I never looked at teamwork as such a important deal before, but i definatly will carry this knowledge into my future! Thanks so much and great job!

    Regan Maraviov ( Human Animal Bond )

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  13. Bonnie,
    I admire your positive attitude and how you utilize it to support the Veterinary Technician field. I really enjoyed this blog. I completely agree with you about "the key to the difference lies in the ability to recognize and support a clear, common goal." That is a well-stated point, and unfortunately is often overlooked in the work force. A favorite quote of mine is: "There is no 'I' in T-E-A-M".
    Andrea K.

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  14. There are so many times if we would just work together, we would get things done much faster and better. However, the independence and will to be “dominant” over others sometimes prevents this in some people. They get overly focused on “ego” and “position” and forget that getting the job done well is the most important thing.
    The veterinary clinic is a prime example of this. Some days at work everything gets done and done well. Everyone is focused on doing the best job possible and being part of the team. Some people just have a way of encouraging others to do their best as well. However, on other days you feel like you are in front of a firing squad like everything is rigged so that you will fail no matter how hard you try to do it correctly. Where I used to work it really depended on the doctor you were working with. Kindness encourages kindness, I don’t care what anyone says it is true. A little encouragement gets so much more done than a negative attitude. Some doctors had a way of showing how to do something in a really nice way and then praising you when you did it well, consequently, you wanted to be on their team!
    In a world where it is “dog eat dog” so many times, it is really important to cultivate an attitude of working well with others in all walks of life. It is something teachers are always trying to teach kids, so it is refreshing to see us being encouraged to do this as adults.

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  15. Bonnie,
    This was truly an excellent blog! Team work really is such an important aspect in everyone’s life. I have learned from playing various sports growing up, and throughout my school years that the only way to really achieve the most out of everything is by working as a team. I think it is great that you are constantly reminding our class that we need to all work as a team. It really will benefit all of us in the end; as well, as help each of us achieve the most out of this program. Thanks for a great blog.
    Sincerely,
    Brittany LeCompte

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  16. In order for a profession to survive and thrive there must be a group of individuals willing to participate in building and supporting the foundation. Within this group of many people, all with different skills, they come together with a common goal in mind…to succeed. Each person has different strengths and weaknesses and when bound together they form the next and each successive layer to their foundation. This foundation and its strength can be seen in the growth and successfulness of Veterinary Technology all around our country. The strong and united profession of veterinary technicians is evident by the numerous schools and programs that educate them, and the career trends that are available and evolving every day.

    Throughout my school years I have played basketball every fall. All of my various coaches have always said the same thing, “There is no I in team.” Not one person makes a team, nor can he/she win a game alone, but with everyone putting forth their best game and their heart, the cohesive team has the common goal to succeed and win. You may not like some of your team mates, but you all have one thing in common: the love of the game. In your job as a veterinary technologist you might not always like the person next to you, but you work your heart for the common goal of taking care of the animal population. By taking care of the animal population, this in turn benefits the human population. Providing care and to food animals provides safety to the human consumer. Watching trends of illnesses in animals and providing proper care addresses the public health and safety of a nation. And when technologists band together to do research on animals problems and provide education to others a solution is possible. All of these things are what make up the team of Veterinary Technologists.

    Where will the profession of Veterinary Technology be in ten years? I think it can only get better and expand into new areas. As long as we stick together, promote and prove that this is a necessary part of the foundation, the common goal for this team will result in changes for a better world.

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  17. Over the past few months, I have come to realize more than ever just how important teamwork really is. Everyone needs to know their role as part of the team and perform to the best of their ability with support from other members of the team, who should step in and assist if need be, even if, as you pointed out, they don't necessarily get along. Putting aside differences for the sake of everyone on the team is paramount in the team's success.

    I loved how you made the distinction between being part of a team and part of a group, too. The latter is simply a collective, the members more coexisting than cooperating like they would in a team.

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  18. You couln't be more correct that teamwork is more about just showing up, and you truely do have to care about accomplishing the common goal. I also agree that it does not mean the individual is not important. There are just some things that are not possible for a single person to do, but can be possible when more than one individual is working toward the goal.

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  19. You are so right about the principles of teamwork and the positive effects it can have on any work place, including for vets. Good article.

    Veterinarian Hospital in Bucks County

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