New educational approach focuses on interprofessional communication in health sciences

December 15, 2014 | Features, UToday, — Health Sciences, Medicine and Life Sciences, Nursing, Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
By Kevin Bucher

Interprofessional education is a vital part of the health science professions, and The University of Toledo is making sure students learn that lesson.

Some 550 students in the health science professions worked together interprofessionally this semester as a part of the new approach that aims to positively impact patient care and patient safety.

Many other health science institutions offer interprofessional educational opportunities for their students, but generally hold large interprofessional education seminars a few times a year. UT is doing things differently.

At the University, interprofessional education is a required part of the health science curriculum. Throughout fall semester, students worked together in small groups learning to come together as a team.

During spring semester, students will be expected to complete additional interprofessional experiences that will build upon the foundation established in the fall.

The goal is to make students comfortable working in a team and learn to communicate effectively, said Dr. Susan Sochacki, an associate professor in the College of Nursing.

“UT students graduate and go everywhere in the world, so we want what they learn here to travel with them,” Sochacki said.

The program is designed around the recommendations and objectives of the World Health Organization and the Interprofessional Education Collaborative.

“This program is one of the most formalized, experiential and truly interprofessional education programs that is offered,” Dr. Carol Hasbrouck, director of the School for Interprofessional Education and assistant professor in the Department of Medicine, said.

A pilot program was offered in fall 2013 to see if this kind of approach would be effective. Based on the results of the pilot program, UT decided to institute this new approach.

The course also addresses skills and competencies from TeamSTEPPS (Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety), a teamwork system developed jointly by the Department of Defense and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality to improve institutional collaboration and communication relating to patient safety.

“Designing and implementing this approach has been a team effort from the beginning,” Hasbrouck said. “We are extremely proud of the effort that was put forth to make this happen and pleased to see that the students are enthusiastic. Ultimately, we hope this approach will result in improved patient care and patient satisfaction.”

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