10. Interdisciplinary Team Building


MCH systems are interdisciplinary in nature. Interdisciplinary practice provides a supportive environment in which the skills and expertise of team members from different disciplines, including families, are seen as essential and synergistic. The expertise of each team member is elicited and valued in making joint outcome-driven decisions to benefit individuals or groups and to solve community or systems problems.

The “team,” which is the core of interdisciplinary practice, is characterized by mutual respect among disciplines and stakeholders, a sharing of leadership, investment in the team process, and acceptance of responsibility and accountability for outcomes. Members of an interdisciplinary team may include a variety of professionals, consumers, families, and community partners.

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Knowledge Areas

Through participation in this program, a participant will know:

  • Team building concepts:
    • Stages of team development
    • Practices that enhance teamwork
    • Managing team dynamics.
  • Various approaches to practice (evolution from multidisciplinary to interdisciplinary to transdisciplinary practice).
  • The roles and competencies of individual disciplines.

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Basic. Through participation in this program, a participant will:

  1. Identify and assemble team members appropriate to a given task (e.g., research question, program, curriculum, clinical care issue).
  2. Develop and articulate shared vision, roles and responsibilities.
  3. Facilitate group processes for team-based decisions (e.g., foster collaboration and cooperation).
  4. Value and honor diverse perspectives (e.g., discipline, ethnic, cultural, economic) of team members.

Advanced. With more experience and building on the basic skills, MCH leaders will:

  1. Identify forces that influence team dynamics.
  2. Enhance team functioning, redirect team dynamics, and achieve a shared vision.
  3. Share leadership based on appropriate use of team member strengths in accomplishing activities and managing challenges for the team.
  4. Use knowledge of disciplinary competencies and roles to improve teaching, research, advocacy, and systems of care.
  5. Use shared outcomes to promote team synergy.

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Educational Experiences


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Resources/Assessment Tools – 10. Interdisciplinary Team Building

Key Documents

Larson, C and LaFasto, FA.  1989. Teamwork:  What must go right/what can go wrong.  London:  Sage Publishers, Inc.

AUCD Interdisciplinary Training Guide, http://www.aucd.org/docs/councils/ntdc/idguide110101.pdf

Bridging Disciplines in the Brain, Behavioral and Clinical Sciences, This 2000 Institute of Medicine report examines the need for interdisciplinary research and training, identifies obstacles that stand in the way, and defines the components of training necessary to create scientists able to bridge disciplines in the brain, behavioral, and clinical sciences. http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=9942

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Assessment Tools

Inclusion Criteria –

To be considered for initial inclusion in this web site, the materials had to meet several criteria:

  • the material needed to focus on one or more of the skills listed for a particular competency
  • the material needed to describe either a measurement instrument or theory that could support the creation of such an instrument
  • the material had to be publicly available, that is, where the item is not a commercial entity available for purchase
  • the material needed either psychometric information about its properties as a measure or, particularly in the case of material found only on the Web, a high degree of face validity

Copyright and Use Issues –

The materials initially described were identified for consideration by MCH interdisciplinary training programs. Many of these materials are copyrighted and thus, may not be copied, distributed, transmitted, or published without the express written permission of the copyright owner. It is the responsibility of each user to ascertain whether materials may be freely used or whether such permission is needed.

Leadership Portfolio

360-Degree Assessment

As a group, professional and ethical skills may be assessed from the perspectives of the various participants with whom one interacts in the setting of interest. This type of assessment, known as 360-degree assessment, relies on the judgments of individuals at various levels – supervisors, peers, subordinates, and in some instances, clients – to provide a complete picture of the learner’s skills.

While this type of assessment has been used more in business organizations than in health care, the ACGME, in its table of toolbox methods, suggests that 360-degree ratings are a desirable way to assess a number of competencies. The ACGME’s Toolbox of Assessment Methods provides some information about the properties and uses of portfolios for assessment.

Research to date shows that, in general, comprehensive feedback such as that provided in a 360-degree assessment, can improve performance. While the notion that comprehensive feedback such as that gathered in a 360-degree assessment will inform and influence behavior is attractive, research to date shows that the realization of this utility is guarded. Atwater and Brett (2005) studied ratings by others, self-ratings, and motivation. They found that leaders who were rated low by others were more motivated to make change if they self-rated themselves higher, that is, if they over-rated themselves, than leaders who agreed with the low ratings bestowed by others. Morgan and his colleagues (2005) noted that, “The underpinning assumption in the adoption of 360° feedback is that it heightens an individual’s self-awareness by highlighting differences between how participants see themselves and how others see them. This statement implies that awareness motivates development and improves performance.” Their study found that this was not the case in that the desired self-awareness was not achieved in the organizational setting where the study was conducted.

Caveats aside, the MCHB may want to consider developing a 360-degree instrument to assess some components of leadership, for example, behaviors related to ethics and professionalism. In the meantime, collecting assessment information from the perspectives represented by multiple others offers one way to gather a more complete picture of the learner’s skills.

Information at:

Atwater, L. E. & Brett, J. F. (2005). Antecedents and consequences of reactions to developmental 360-degree feedback. Journal of Vocational Behavior. 66: 532-48.

Morgan, A., Cannan, K., & Cullinane, J. (2005). 360-degree feedback: A critical enquiry. Personnel Review. 34(6): 663-80.

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DIAND Self-Assessment

The Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (DIAND) of Canada provides extensive resources for training and assessment of six leadership competencies: communication, team building and facilitation, win-win negotiation, flexibility and innovation, risk taking, and seeing the big picture. Some of these competencies map to some of the MCH leadership competencies.

The DIAND Self-Assessment exercise is designed for learners to rate themselves on a variety of skills related to the competencies and to supplement their ratings by describing recent examples. DIAND suggests that such information can then be used as the basis for individual learning plans.

This tool may be very useful in helping MCH interdisciplinary trainees to self-reflect in a targeted way and to further explore the results, perhaps using a portfolio approach.

Information at:

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