February 12, 2019
Dr. Sweet addresses students at the Team Up event

This article was originally posted on the Michigan Center for Interprofessional Education's website

More than 500 future clinicians across five disciplines come together for team-based decision making.

The U-M interprofessional course Team-Based Clinical Decision Making (TBCDM) has nearly doubled in enrollment in the last five years. It is now required for all third-year dental and pharmacy students, advanced-practice nursing students, first-year medical students, and first-year social-work students in the Integrated Health Scholars, Detroit Clinical Scholars, and HRSA Scholars programs.

“The growth we saw this year, with the addition of nearly 170 medical students, is exciting, and we are now able to include a medical student on all of the interprofessional teams,” said Gundy Sweet, professor of pharmacy and lead faculty for TBCDM. “With this growth, we decided to change how we do one of our major team-building sessions.” 

So on January 16, nearly all 530 students and 10 faculty from across the five sections of the course convened at North Campus Research Center for the large-scale Team Up event. Students were placed in their interprofessional teams–with at least one student from each discipline in each group–to get acquainted and begin working together. A live polling process was used to call out common stereotypes of each profession, an activity that gives a few laughs and allows acknowledgement of the stereotypes everyone faces. After spending time talking with teammates about their respective disciplines, students took on their first team assignment: the timed “Marshmallow Challenge” to construct the tallest free-standing tower from raw spaghetti sticks and a top-heavy marshmallow pinnacle.

“We very intentionally chose a team activity where no individual on the team is likely to be a content expert,” said Professor Sweet. ”Students worked together to complete the task on a level playing field without the hierarchies that sometimes exist in health care.” While this challenge is not new to the TBCDM course, having all enrolled students in the same room at the same time was new.

“My hope is that students felt the energy of being in a room full of peers across health disciplines and realized that they are a part of a much bigger movement – that IPE is providing them with the knowledge and skills needed to drive practice forward and develop interprofessional practice models of the future,” Professor Sweet said. “Health care is too complicated for any one discipline to work alone, and we must understand the knowledge and skills that each discipline brings to the team so we can improve outcomes.”

Vani Patterson, assistant director of the Michigan Center for Interprofessional Education, agreed about the value of Team Up as a new IPE event: “Team-Based Clinical Decision Making has become the gold standard for interprofessional education at U-M, and it somehow continues to raise the bar every year. Bringing together more than 500 students for a massive event focused on team-building was an incredibly powerful demonstration of the value this university, particularly the clinically focused schools, place on IPE.”

Student Reflections on Team Up:

  • “It was useful to be in contact with people from other schools, being open to everyone’s ideas,” said reflected third-year dentistry student Richard Byrd.
  • “I liked learning about the different professions and where students are in their careers,” said first-year  medical student Linda Camaj.

Team Up Faculty: Dentistry: Mark Fitzgerald and Nikki Sweier; Medicine: Tom Bishop and Joe Hornyak; Nursing: Cynthia Arslanian-Engoren and Cindy Darling-Fisher (filling in for Michelle Pardee); Pharmacy: Gundy Sweet and Shawna Kraft; Social Work: Debbie Mattison and Leslie Dubin.

Read more about the TBCDM course.

Read the original news release on the Michigan Center for Interprofessional Education's website.