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Clinical debriefing during the COVID-19

Pandemic: hurdles and opportunities for healthcare teams

Clinical debriefing during the COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent pressures on healthcare staff and resources have exacerbated the need for clinical teams to reflect and learn from workplace experiences. Surges in critically ill patients, the impact of the disease on the workforce and long term adjustments in work and life have upturned our normality. Whilst this situation has generated a new ‘connectedness’ within healthcare workers, it also continues to test our resilience.

An international multi-professional collaboration has guided the identification of ongoing difficulties to effective communication and debriefing, as well as emerging opportunities to promote a culture of dialogue. This article outlines pandemic related barriers and new possibilities categorising them according to task management, teamwork, situational awareness and decision making. It describes their direct and indirect impact on clinical debriefing and signposts towards solutions to overcome challenges and, building on new bridges, advance team conversations that allow us to learn, improve and support each other. This pandemic has brought clinical professionals together; nevertheless, it is essential to invest in further developing and supporting cohesive teams. Debriefing enables healthcare teams and educators to mitigate stress, build resilience and promote a culture of continuous learning and patient care improvement.

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