'We now see how healthy it is to invest more in each other'


An accident can happen at any time. The Emergency Department (ED) knows this better than anyone. Teamwork is crucial in such a fast-paced environment, but there's often little time for reflection. By investing in each other through team sessions, the ED team leaders at St. Antonius Hospital were able to elevate their collaboration to a whole new level.

The past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic haven't made things any calmer in hospitals. Teamwork has always been essential in the ED, where patients arrive needing urgent medical attention. But in a pandemic, good cooperation becomes absolutely paramount. This applies not only to the nurses in the department but also to the team leaders themselves.

Kris Valster knows this firsthand. Originally a nurse in the ED, she's now a Team Leader. "It's an intense job," she says. "There's a lot happening all at once; you have to constantly shift gears and always be on point. The department runs 24/7, so you feel responsible for everything and everyone, day and night. But you learn to cope with it. Now, after four years, I'm better at leaving it all behind at the end of the day."

Caring for Patients and Each Other

Valster and her fellow team leaders form a strong unit. "We have fun together; we look out for each other; we're positive; and there's a lot of humor. We all believe it's important to take care of our people, because if you do, they can take good care of the patients in turn." To strengthen their bond and gain a deeper understanding of each other, the ED department head at St. Antonius suggested team sessions.

Carmen Geurts, HR Advisor for Working Conditions, and Judith Winkel, HR Advisor for Sustainable Employability, conduct the TMA Team sessions within the hospital. They facilitated the sessions for the ED as well, two so far. "We want all our employees to reach their full potential," says Geurts. "Because when they feel good, the organization benefits too. During these sessions, we look for areas of tension within the team and explore ways to create stronger connections."

No Time for Real Listening

Geurts and Winkel utilize the TMA Method; they're both certified TMA Professionals. They've been dedicated to expanding the use of this instrument beyond the initial application process, focusing on employee development. Not just on an individual level, but also within teams—teams that need to be rock-solid in healthcare and, of course, in every organization.


Carmen Geurts

“We want all our employees to achieve their full potential”

“I think the awareness of how important it is for a team to be able to collaborate well is growing,” says Geurts. “But people also find it difficult, because each team consists of individuals. Through a team session, if you create a safe environment where people dare to be vulnerable, you can show that everyone has talents. And thereby improve cooperation and greatly increase work pleasure.”

Winkel adds: “During a team session, you really just listen to each other and learn from each other. In the hustle and bustle of everyday work, there is not always time for that, especially in the ED. No matter how much you would like to.”

Better Delegation of Tasks

Valster first took the TMA Talent Analysis when she applied to the hospital in 2012. “I did the analysis again for the first team session and I was completely absorbed in the report. That gave me a better understanding of how to interpret the results. Very valuable for myself and also to see how my colleagues and I connect with each other. It provides more insight into the team dynamics.”

“In the ED team sessions, we named the competencies of all team members, looked at where the differences lie and what is needed to be able to do the job well,” explains Winkel. “That also means looking at which tasks you can assign to someone and where you can learn from each other. That works much better if you know that something is not your talent for example that of a colleague. Then you no longer go based on who has time for a certain task, but who has the talent for it.”

Biggest Eye-Opener

Valster has gotten to know herself even better and experiences more mutual understanding within the team. “If you speak out loud what you need, the other person can also think along. At the same time, you understand better how the other person is put together and where a need or certain behavior comes from. That helps a lot in the collaboration. It's also funny to see that a colleague was surprised about his own competence but I recognized it in him.”

For Valster, the biggest eye-opener of the team sessions was “how nice it is to reflect on yourself and your colleagues”. “Within our team, we are all inclined to work hard and always keep going. We often say that we should have lunch together, but half the time, it doesn't happen. Work is everyone's number 1 priority. And even though we already felt like a good team, we now also see that it is very healthy to invest even more in the relationship with each other. That can only make the team better.”