Interprofessional Education Day teaches future health care providers to collaborate

A recent case study involving a 64-year-old African American male suffering from high blood sugar allowed students from four academic health care programs to collaborate on the course of action for his care.

The exercise was part of Interprofessional Education Day, which included 277 students 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 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 adjunct professor at the Augusta University/UGA Medical Partnership.

Students were cross-sectioned into 40 teams guided by faculty and staff from the four programs. Offering perspectives from their professions, the students worked to optimize the patient’s care as he was admitted to a hospital, assessed, treated, then returned to his family and community. Afterward, they debriefed.

“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,” said Susan Fagan, assistant dean for the College of Pharmacy’s extended campus in Augusta and one of the event’s facilitators. “The winner in any type of collaborative environment will always be the patient.”

“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 graduaJtion.”

Jessica Kelly, left, nursing student at the Augusta University College of Nursing, collaborates with UGA College of Pharmacy students Nathan Adams, center, and Kristine Nguyen on a care plan for a patient during IPE Day at UGA. (Photo by Caitlin Back)