How can Quality Team Coaching strengthen your rural health care team?

Both coaching and quality improvement are popular topics of conversation in healthcare settings in BC at the moment; however, many offerings available to BC providers focus on individual coaching or quality within teams and projects. Despite the movement in rural healthcare towards both interprofessional team-based care and quality evaluation in health care, few programs coach highly effective teams as the foundation of quality work. The Quality Team Coaching for Rural BC (QTC4RBC) program fills this unmet need.  

In a rural generalist practice, there is an overlap between experienced physicians and new clinicians, interdisciplinary scope, and low volume high acuity cases. “In this setting, the healthcare team requires flexibility and adaptability in order to perform the best work for patients,” says Dr. Nancy Humber, a member of the QTC4RBC steering committee. “The literature supports the notion that change management and quality work is reliant upon team function. Without team function, it becomes difficult to retain changes, innovations, and improvements.” 

Quality Team Coaching for Rural BC offers International Coach Federation (ICF) certified coaching for rural community healthcare teams of any size and any composition, with the express aim of optimizing a team culture of safety, learning, and quality that leads to positive patient and provider experiences. “This program is designed to create an opportunity to assist in [strengthening] healthy team relationships, mindfulness, and awareness in a psychological safe space,” says steering committee member Dr. Anthon Meyer. This approach improves provider recruitment and retention, workplace satisfaction and ultimately allows teams to improve their ability to provide high quality care.  

Steering committee members Drs. Rahul Gupta and Dana Hubler, created a curriculum for QTC4RBC that is both rooted in available evidence and resourced with innovative tools. The program is highly participatory, and allows the rural team full autonomy to explore its own needs and interests. QTC4RBC even provides funding for rural teams to engage in quality improvement projects that may support team learning and innovation. “The program takes a holistic and relational approach to improving team culture,” says Dr. Hubler. “By looking at eight (8) specific elements and the team’s core competencies, the program builds stronger teams which results in a safer, kinder culture for both providers and patients.” 

Team coaching is offered virtually by ICF Coaches who are also rural healthcare providers. There is an introductory workshop, followed by up to three (3) follow-up coaching sessions. Dr. Gupta, who is one of the program coaches, notes that QTC4RBC is structured around one main premise: “trust that the healthcare team already has the answers it needs.” The role of the coaches is to guide the team to discovering those answers through developing self-awareness and situational awareness, building psychological safety, fostering open flow of communication, empowering team infrastructure, developing a learning culture, sharing leadership amongst the team, and committing to shared values, roles and goals.  

One of the more unique features of QTC4RBC is that healthcare leadership* is required to both actively support and commit to participating in this program alongside their team. “One of the eight (8) elements of the program is exploring leadership as a shared concept,” says Dr. Gupta. “Learning how to distribute that role can sometimes require a shift in thinking. The program structure provides three (3) one-on-one sessions with leaders to support them through the transition alongside the rural healthcare team.” Ultimately, this aspect of the program empowers the rural healthcare team to discover and utilize each member’s strengths, as well as creating a shared sense of ownership in the team and its work.  

The QTC4RBC program is being conducted as a pilot now with an eye to serve 10 rural healthcare communities through 2020-2021. Like most RCCbc programs, it will be evaluated for both research and quality improvement purposes. When asked why a program like QTC4RBC – one that takes a relationship-based approach to team-based quality improvement – is so important to rural healthcare in BC, Dr. Meyer responded “It was important for us to go beyond the typical approach of just QI or just individualized coaching. We recognize that we now have the era of team-based care and primary care reform ahead of us.” This is not just lip service – the QTC4RBC steering committee itself is an interprofessional group that includes Interior Health nursing Program Leader Megan Delf, and RCCbc Project Manager Adrienne Peltonen as key contributors whose valuable skills and perspectives have shaped this program. “It’s important to our committee that we model healthy team-function, inclusivity, and shared leadership,” says Delf, “We want to demonstrate what’s possible, that we all can learn how to work better together, at every level.”  


* the individual within your team who attends the workshop and who is most responsible for decision-making and most accountable for outcomes.

Watch the video for QTC4RBC now