Background and objectives: Although teamwork is widely promoted by the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the Future of Family Medicine project, the health care literature does not provide clear direction on how to create or maintain high-functioning teams in ambulatory residency education. In 2004, we reorganized the clinical operation of our family medicine residency clinic into teams, each consisting of faculty, residents, and nursing and administrative staff. We hypothesized that operating within teams would have a positive effect on employees' job satisfaction and perceptions of our clinic's organizational and learning environments.
Methods: We administered a confidential survey to faculty, residents, and staff annually over 5 years (2002-2006). Using questionnaire data from 2002-2003 as a baseline and data from 2004-2006 as a post-intervention measurement, we performed Mann-Whitney tests to assess the effect of the implementation of teams on employees' ratings of job satisfaction, individual autonomy, organizational commitment, goal attainment, physical characteristics and personnel arrangements within the clinic, learning opportunities for residents, teaching behaviors of faculty, roles of staff, and learning organization characteristics.
Results: After the implementation of teams, there was an improvement in ratings of learning opportunities and quality of teaching, job satisfaction, employee autonomy, staff roles, and staff attitudes toward residents.
Conclusions: Implementing a team approach in a residency clinic can improve measures of physician and staff satisfaction and organizational function.