Earlier this year, I was able to participate in a research project around the dynamics of multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs) and how each team member can become an asset to the team. It was an amazing opportunity to talk with doctors, physiotherapists, and sports scientists from different settings and backgrounds worldwide. 


A simple fundamental question we discussed was working as a team vs. working alone. There were many answers, as there are pros and cons to both! Alone, I can follow whatever process I choose. I am on my time, and I can move as fast or slow as I want. I oversee every decision and hold full responsibility for the outcome. Alone, I may also be tunnel-visioned, I may be biased, and I may not see all the problems and limitations ahead. In a team environment, I may not be able to work as fast as I want if I am held back by someone else’s slow process. I may have to compromise on some of my thoughts and ideas because the power of the group may decide otherwise. As a team, I will also have many points of view, and I may possibly avoid some issues that I have not considered. As a team, we can also divide to conquer, which should, in theory, help us move forward faster. The most important aspect of working as part of a team is probably the challenges and growth that come from interacting with other professionals and disciplines.


Another important question circled around decision-making and problem-solving within an MDT. We discussed egos and emotional intelligence. Too often, in times of disagreement, we can witness personal egos taking over in a conversation. Having a clear understanding of what the true goal is and staying in line with good ethics helps the team navigate the discussion. It is also important to have awareness of our own personal biases and perhaps our team’s biases to stay on the path to reach the most optimal solution or make the best possible decision. 


As we dove deeper into this topic, everyone seemed to align on the importance of recruiting the “right” people, or people who will help minimize these moments of conflict. In fact, building a strong team does not only mean recruiting the best chiropractor in the market or the best PT around; it is about finding a good balance between different personalities, different levels of experience, and different areas of expertise while assessing the quality of the human being we are bringing to the team. 


In conclusion, this was a very enriching experience where I got to challenge my thoughts on my management style and my priorities while re-assessing my previous experiences in MDT management. My take-home message would be to keep crafting your team and your system to achieve smooth operation in your MDT. The more collaboration occurs, the more knowledge and information are exchanged, the more we will reach positive outcomes. Lastly, invest in people and allow them to be themselves and shine in their own way.