Central Michigan University recently hosted approximately 250 students for an Interprofessional Education Workshop. The interactive experience offered future health care professionals the opportunity to network and share their individual expertise with each other and work together to solve a hypothetical patient case scenario.
"This event was about team building," Thomas Masterson, interim dean of The Herbert H. & Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions at CMU, said. "When students go out to work in the real world, we want them to be prepared to work in teams when they treat their patients."
This was the second workshop coordinated by CMU's Interprofessional Practice and Education committee, a regional group of health professions educators that leads efforts to design, develop and deliver sustainable, high impact, collaborative team learning and practice opportunities for students and practitioners in health care professions.
"Over the last five to 10 years there has been a real national push for increased interprofessional education, interaction and collaborative practice in the health professions with the aim of improving quality of care, not wasting resources and decreasing costs," Elizabeth Mostrom, CMU physical therapy professor and chair of the IPE committee, said. "The number one focus is patient-centered, high-quality care that can happen when the team really works cohesively and not in their respective disciplinary silos."
Janet Gabel, coordinator of longitudinal education in CMU's College of Medicine and an IPE committee member, said that it's important for students to have interprofessional experience before they graduate and join the medical workforce, where an interactive team approach to health care is becoming the norm.
"When we can have students learn more about each other's professions while they're still in school, they'll be better prepared and know how to work together as a team when they get out into the field," Gabel said.
Students from CMU, Ferris State University and Mid Michigan Community College pursuing a degree in a health care-related discipline — including athletic training, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, physician assistant, physical therapy, social work and speech-language pathology — participated in the workshop, where they were divided into smaller groups in the classrooms of CMU's College of Medicine Building.
"We get so focused on our own individual education and thoughts that we don't realize the work that other health care professionals do," Midland senior Emily Wilson, a social work major at CMU, said. "This event is a really great opportunity for us to hear the thoughts and opinions of others who are also studying to be health care practitioners."
Facilitated by a professor, a student group leader was chosen to lead the conversation about a clinical case study that had medical, health care, socioeconomic and cultural issues.
Each member of the group contributed their thoughts about a hypothetical situation and provided insights from their discipline of study to help the group come to a consensus on options for managing the case. The individual sharing helped to dispel any discrepancies or preconceived notions among the team that individual health care practitioners might have of each other.
Beal City native Alissa Steele is in her first year of CMU's physician assistant program. She said the workshop and cross-disciplinary discussion reminded her that it's important for medical teams to work together.
"It's easy to forget to look at the bigger picture," Steele said. "We have to use our resources and the professionals around us and not try to tackle a patient's case only by ourselves."
The group discussion also allowed the students to strengthen their individual skills in the following areas:
Practice-based learning and improvement: Students had the opportunity to demonstrate professional behavior by facilitating their own learning and that of other health care professionals;
Interpersonal and communication skills: Students had to work respectfully and effectively with others, as a member or leader of a health care team, and learn the various roles played by each member; and,
Systems-based practice: Students learned how to advocate for quality patient care and assist patients in navigating the complex health care system, how to identify the key personnel on the health care team who could advocate for the patient, and how to advocate for access to health care for members of underserved populations and commit to providing care to patients unable to pay.
Hillsboro, New Jersey, native Vanessa Burshnic, a first-year student in CMU's speech-language pathology program, said that the interactive nature of the workshop reinforced her idea that health care involves being a partner in education with the patient.
"The patient learns from me but I also learn from them," Burshnic said. "It's critical for us as health care providers to make sure we know all of the issues from the patient's perspective so that we can ensure a holistic, comprehensive approach pre-, during and post-care."
Diamondbar, California, native Amy Paiva, a first-year nursing student at Mid Michigan Community College, said that the hypothetical scenario that was discussed by her group reminded her that when faced with life or death situations, it's critical to involve everyone and approach the situation as a cohesive team.
"If we all help each other, the patient is going to be happier and healthier," Paiva said. "If we just keep talking and working together, health care will only get better."