Debrief Your Healthcare Team To Help Them Manage The Covid-19 Pandemic

Susan Leys
4 min readJul 11, 2020

Reduce stress and increase the retention of your experienced, top-notch healthcare team throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

Who Is This For? Physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, technicians, every professional in your hospital who is working on the front lines throughout the Covid19 pandemic.

Why Is It Important?: There are four reasons to debrief your team. These include the following:

  1. Case Review: Debriefing helps your team process their feelings and emotions from the interactions they had with patients, families, and colleagues and the stress they may have related to the pandemic.
  2. Reduction of Stress, Burnout, and Compassion Fatigue: Reduction of Stress, Burnout, and Compassion Fatigue: Debriefing allows teams to communicate their feelings and emotions related to what happened during their shift. These interactions (debriefing) helps reduce physical and emotional stress after working several hours in fast-paced, high stress, critical situations.
  3. Team Building and Modeling: Debriefings also provide a critical opportunity for new nurses (especially those new to your department or traveling) when working with preceptors or colleagues. By seeing the team debrief, they can see the supportive interactions provided by all team members.
  4. Retention: Teams become more cohesive and collaborative. Debriefing helps them transition more effectively between patients and shifts.

“Yeah But….”- Sometimes the idea to debrief is met with “Oh no, not another meeting!” resistance; it’s not uncommon to hear:

  • “We don’t have time.”
  • “We have to get ready for the next shift.”
  • “I’m tired; I just want to go home.”
  • “I have to keep my ‘game face’ on.”
  • “My team handles everything so much better than I do; you should just talk to them.”

Here’s The Thing: It’s critical to retain your experienced healthcare team. Please make the time. Debrief so you and your team can leave work at work and go home and hug your families and the people you love the most. A “game face” (defined as the healthy defenses healthcare professionals use that protect them from the stress and trauma experienced daily in fast-paced healthcare environments) will not serve you well once you leave your hospital. And — there is no “I” in team. Protect your team; check in with each other before you go.

How Do You Do A Debriefing: It takes only 5 Questions to facilitate an informal debriefing in your hospital. It’s an “end-of-shift” huddle to help you and your team leave work at work. Anyone on the team can take the lead, but make sure everyone checks in before leaving. Start by saying: “Hey team, let’s debrief before everyone leaves,” and then follow up by asking the following five questions:

  1. “What was the most difficult part of your day today?” The goal of asking this question is to help the team review and discuss the most challenging part of their day.
  2. “How did you feel?” The goal of asking this question is to help each team member identify their most stressful feeling.
  3. Was there something a team member did or said that helped you during your shift?” The goal of asking this question is to help team members positively identify and support collaborative teamwork.
  4. “What positive lesson did you learn about yourself (personally or professionally) based on the patients you cared for or an interaction you had during your shift?” The goal is to help your healthcare team transition from discussing their most difficult feelings to reviewing a positive lesson that helps “anchor” (i.e., leave work at work) your team on a more positive growth-focused foundation.
  5. “Did anyone notice any opportunities to support each other more or provide better care for our patients and families based on your experiences today?” The goal of asking this last question is to put closure on the shift by looking at the team’s collaborative work in a manner that explores opportunities for growth. It also helps to ‘anchor’ the team as a group.

A debriefing for your team is NOT meant as therapy or a root-cause analysis for your shift. It’s a quick check-in for your team that can be done in 15–30 minutes to ensure your team is okay before everyone leaves to go home. This quick check-in will help anchor your team and the experience you had (lessons learned, interactions had with each other) to go home with less stress, tension, and residual angst.

Most importantly, thank you for the work that you and your team do in caring for the patients and families you have during this difficult time.

Ever feel like you’re struggling to keep up with the demands of your career or feeling stressed and burnt out? You’re not alone. More professionals are in high-stress careers that are affecting their health and well-being. Let’s fix this. S.A. Leys is a Consultant and High-Performance Coach for professionals. Need help? Visit

#healthcare #covid19 #communication #personaldevelopment



Susan Leys

I consult and coach the healthcare professionals and teams who care for all of us.