Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: Finding Your Medical Team
Last updated: November 2021
"Teamwork makes the dream work!"
I don’t know how many times I have heard that phrase in many different industries and organizations. As the New York Jets (National Football League) team chaplain from 1995-2005, I heard that phrase a lot. From Hall of Fame coaches and players down to the water assistant, this mantra rang true in such a competitive business as professional sports. Without teamwork, there are no plays, there is no scoring, and there is no winning. At the very heart of success is playing as a team. There is no "I" in "team!"
Finding your skin cancer medical team
I believe this also rings true when you look for a medical team to assist you in your treatment. Teamwork is critical to continued success when dealing with diseases like melanoma and other skin cancers. But, what does this kind of teamwork look like? Like any other successful organization, business, or civic group, good teamwork has some very clear distinctions.
Here is what I look for in a good medical team:
I want a knowledgeable team
This means each individual understands the latest in diagnostical methodology, treatments, ad post-treatment care. They are well educated and well-read. They care about their craft and it shows in their preparation.
I want a team that communicates well
Each member is aware of what the other has done, is doing, and will do. They are not caught off guard by a report or finding. They read their charts and results.
I want a team that is prepared
They are ready to work when my name is called. They don’t needlessly waste my time by being late or forgetting to bring needed items. They take their job and my life seriously.
I want an empathetic team
This may be their sixth case of the morning, but it means everything to me. This means they listen well. They ask good questions and wait for my answers. They don’t rush me. They allow me to share my thoughts and feelings. They don’t dismiss my fears. They don’t belittle my ignorance.
I want a team with a clear plan: I want them to have SMART goals
- S-They are SPECIFIC. I am not interested in vague outcomes and results.
- M-They are MEASURABLE. I want to understand my progress in real terms. I want them to explain what "better" or "worse" mean in terms that I understand.
- A-They are ATTAINABLE. Don’t promise me the moon and give me a tree limb. Be honest with me.
- R- They are REALISTIC. I want my diagnosis and treatment goals based on my reality and not assumptions and dreams. They need to be based on my unique situation.
- T-They are TIMELY. Don’t give me an ambiguous time frame. I need dates and times if they are available.
I'm willing to be flexible, but I know what I need
I realize that not all of these qualities are possible all the time. But to the extent that they are, I feel better. I feel better because I know that my team has my back and that they are doing everything they can to help me in my darkest hours. I don’t need a perfect team. I just want one that wants to win the Super Bowl every year.
What qualities do you look for in the medical professionals that comprise your skin cancer team?
Do you sunscreen in the fall?