Interprofessional Education Day Teaches Future Health Care Providers to Collaborate

A recent case involving a 38-year-old woman with opioid use disorder was the centerpiece of a recent Interprofessional Event that allowed four academic health care programs to collaborate on the course of action for her care.

This exercise was part of Interprofessional Education Day, which included approximately 270 students and 50 faculty from the University of Georgia College of Pharmacy, the UGA School of Social Work, the Augusta University/UGA Medical Partnership, and Augusta University College of Nursing. The purpose was for future health care professionals to better understand the roles their counterparts play in caring for patients and to discover how they can work together as a healthcare team.

“Witnessing the students build teams and interact without worrying about traditional boundaries or egos was refreshing and is exactly what is needed to combat the complexity of our current health care system,” said Timothy Brown, director of interprofessional education at the College of Pharmacy and professor at the Augusta University/UGA Medical Partnership.

Students were cross-sectioned into 40 teams guided by faculty from the four programs. Offering perspectives from their professions, the students worked to optimize the patient’s care as she was seen in the Emergency Department, Primary Care Office and finally, in a Medication Assisted Treatment Program. Once the teams had created care plans for their patient as a healthcare team they debriefed in groups of 5 to see how they performed and discuss the various team dynamics involving the 4 professions.

“Interprofessional education provides students an opportunity to get outside of disciplinary silos and learn about the gifts, strengths and skills of other disciplines,” said Rebecca Wells, clinical assistant professor at the School of Social Work. “My hope is that universities and academic programs will recognize the value of IPE and invest in offering more interprofessional events.”

“There was lively discussion and some deep reflection on how each team member has important information to contribute as they optimize the care they provided their patient,” said Beth McLear,  AGACNP Concentration Coordinator at  Augusta University College of Nursing.

“In today’s health care system, patient care is a team effort, in which physicians and other health care professionals bring to bear their knowledge and skills to provide patient-centered care and improve health outcomes,” said Leslie Petch Lee, associate dean for campus integration and academic enhancement at the AU/UGA Medical Partnership.

Brown summed up the event’s success for the College of Pharmacy. “We were able to help our students model the future of pharmacy practice, allowing them to realize what will be needed to work at the top of their license after graduation.”

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