1. Gary, Jodie C. PhD, RN

Article Content

Graduates of health professions programs are expected to enter practice ready to participate in collaboration with other professionals. This article presents a strategy, inspired by popular culture media, offering educators an easy, accessible, entertaining, and interactive mechanism for teaching or reinforcing TeamSTEPPS content. Although this example highlights prelicensure nursing students, the approach is adaptable to engage a variety of students and course designs.



TeamSTEPPS is an evidence-based teamwork program designed to improve the quality, safety, and efficiency of health care. The curriculum is practical and adaptable, and provides free, ready-to-use materials for training and ongoing teamwork.1 TeamSTEPPS and Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC) core competencies are well aligned, and TeamSTEPPS is recommended by the IPEC panel as a program for preparing health professionals for collaborative practice.2 TeamSTEPPS training prepares nursing students to advocate for safety, themselves, and patients in the presence of hierarchical systems and cultures.3,4 Imbedding TeamSTEPPS training not only into nursing curriculum but also into all health professions programs offers a practical way of teaching IPEC competencies and preparing students for future collaborative practice.


TeamSTEPPS 2.0 Fundamentals training modules are presented to our undergraduate nursing students early in the curriculum as part of a health care relations course. The content is taught by master trained faculty using the materials provided by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Students evaluated the course with an overall rating of 3.8 of 5.0, and faculty evaluation noted a desire to "make the course more interactive" and appraise learning of TeamSTEPPS concepts. This article shares the strategy used for the course in light of these evaluations.


Teaching Strategy

Objectives for TeamSTEPPS Module 7: Putting It All Together expects learners to discuss the use of tools and strategies, demonstrate application of the tools and strategies to real-life situations, and practice using the tools and strategies for overcoming barriers to team effectiveness.1 Although TeamSTEPPS modules provide videos to demonstrate application in the health care setting, entry-level nursing students often lack sufficient clinical or hospital experiences on which to anchor the newly learned skills. TeamSTEPPS modules were supplemented with popular culture videos emphasizing the concepts of team structure, leadership, situation monitoring, mutual support, and communication. Class discussions were added to provide dialogue surrounding the illustrated concepts and applicable strategies and tools. A Team Presentation Project was developed as a culmination assignment to evaluate students' ability to apply TeamSTEPPS content to real-life.


Popular culture (also called pop culture) is used by educators to pique the interest of the students in classroom topics. Both humor and pop culture such as music, television, film, and comics are inventive ways to engage students and improve learning outcomes.5,6 Incorporating comedic videos into classroom content increases students' ability to apply concepts, decreases anxiety with new concepts, and engages a larger number of students during class discussion.5 A video, through its verbal and visual components, is a valid approach and fits today's students by reflecting multiple intelligences and learning styles. A video engages all aspects of students' brains and elicits a variety of emotions to facilitate learning.6


The Team Presentation Project offers experience in the use of TeamSTEPPS tools and strategies while collaborating on a team. Students want real-world applications to see the relevance of what they are learning. The use of videos can provide graphic and explicit examples of a wide range of concepts.6 Students are assigned into teams of 3 to 5 who meet throughout the semester for structured discussions on concepts of team formation, communication strategies, leadership, mutual support, and conflict resolution in concurrence with the TeamSTEPPS modules presented in class. Discussions take place via an online platform outside of class or during class time.


By semester end, each team develops a presentation based on an assigned short pop culture video (1-3 minutes) from a movie or television show. Videos represent examples of exemplary or challenging teamwork and/or communication vignettes. An Internet video search using terms such as teamwork, communication, leadership, or mutual support elicits many viable video clips for connecting TeamSTEPPS concepts. A variety of fair use resources from the Internet can be accessed for incorporating short clips into educational exercises under the Technology, Education and Copyright Harmonization Act of 2002, known as the TEACH Act.5,7 Examples include clips from the television show Big Bang Theory and movies such as Monte Python and the Holy Grail, Patch Adams, and Guardians of the Galaxy.


Team members are to critically analyze the video for TeamSTEPPS concepts and discuss tools and strategies either exemplified or those suggested to improve upon in the vignette. The deliverable is a 7-to-10-minute in-class presentation followed by a brief team-led class discussion. Faculty evaluation by grading rubric considers the organization of the presentation; articulation of TeamSTEPPS content in response to the assigned clip and discussion of tools or strategies either exemplified, lacking, or needed in the vignette; team collaboration in development of the presentation; and presentation within the time range. On completion of the projects, each team engages in an online discussion structured to debrief on team performance in completing the presentation. Students reflect on recent team experiences of completing the project in light of the TeamSTEPPS core concepts of team structure, leadership, situation monitoring, mutual support, and communication.1 Students are evaluated individually for their initial posting and subsequent contributions to the online discussion using a grading rubric.



The course updates were well received by students, and presentation of the projects led to rich in-class discussions, followed by critical analysis of the experience through a TeamSTEPPS lens in the team debrief. Team Presentation Project grades and the individual discussion grades reflected learning of TeamSTEPPS content. Students' evaluation of the course also increased in the semester the strategy was implemented.


Learning outcomes from the use of pop culture are many.6 This strategy provides an amusing and interactive mechanism for engaging TeamSTEPPS learners. Potential outcomes include grabbing students' attention, focusing concentration and interest in course material, drawing on students' imagination, improving attitudes toward the content, building connections with other students, increasing understanding and retention of content, fostering creativity and deeper learning, improving collaboration, and creating memorable visual images for TeamSTEPPS.6 Students gain experience in applying newly attained TeamSTEPPS tools and strategies in a team setting. Team discussions reinforce context for individual members. Structured grading criteria evaluate learning outcomes based on TeamSTEPPS(R) content.


The strategy is adaptable for all levels of TeamSTEPPS users, and pop culture videos could augment any of the TeamSTEPPS modules. The strategy could be a single experience in an abbreviated timespan to rekindle TeamSTEPPS content in established teams or as an ice-breaker for newly formed teams. Learners also could be assigned to locate their own clips based on a key term.



Team-based collaborative care is essential in today's health care environment. Educators of all health professions have a responsibility to prepare graduates to function as competent and effective team members. The strategy presented uses pop culture, an easy, accessible, entertaining, and interactive mechanism, to teach or reinforce TeamSTEPPS concepts. Immediate future directions are to engage a variety of disciplines in this strategy as part of interprofessional education training for health professions students.




1. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). TeamSTEPPS(R) 2.0: Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Updated 2017. Accessed November 1, 2017. [Context Link]


2. Interprofessional Education Collaborative. Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice: 2016 Update. Washington, DC. Interprofessional Education Collaborative. [Context Link]


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4. Doherty C, Landry H, Pate B, Reid H. Impact of communication competency training on nursing students' self-advocacy skills. Nurse Educ. 2016;41(5):252-255. [Context Link]


5. Bingham SC, Hernandez AA. "Laughing matters": the comedian as social observer, teacher, and conduit of the sociological perspective. Teaching Sociology. 2009;37(4):335-352. [Context Link]


6. Berk RA. Multimedia teaching with video clips: TV, movies, YouTube, and mtvU in the college classroom. Int J Technol Teach Learn. 2009;5(1):1-21. [Context Link]


7. The TEACH Act. Danvers, MA: Copyright Clearance Center Inc. Published 2011. Accessed August 1, 2018. [Context Link]