Teamwork, the Future of Health Education and Practice
“Incorporating meaningful interprofessional education (IPE) into curricula to better equip students to enter and shape clinical practice can be challenging,” explains Gundy Sweet, PharmD, lead author of the recent paper, Moving from individual roles to functional teams: a semester-long course in case-based decision making, published in the June edition of the Journal of Interprofessional Education & Practice.
University of Michigan faculty from dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and social work teach a large-scale, semester-long IPE course where interprofessional teams of students collaborate in case-based decision making to learn two IPE competencies: understanding professional roles and developing teamwork skills. In addition to Dr. Sweet, who serves as the course director, faculty who taught in the 2015 and 2016 offerings include: Mark Fitzgerald and Nikki Sweier (School of Dentistry); Joe House, Joe Hornyak, and Jennifer Stojan (Medical School); Michelle Pardee and Cynthia Arslanian-Engoren (School of Nursing); Bruce Mueller (College of Pharmacy); and Brad Zebrack, Debbie Mattison, and Leslie Dubin (School of Social Work).
Team-Based Clinical Decision Making (TBCDM) has been offered for three years and, collectively, has enrolled over 800 students from the different health-science disciplines. The recent publication summarizes student outcomes for the first two cohorts (2015 and 2016). “Working in fixed interprofessional teams over the course of the semester allows students to learn about the importance of effective communication and the role of team collaboration in clinical decision making,” notes Dr. Sweet, director of curriculum assessment and clinical professor of pharmacy. “Students also gain an increased awareness of their individual performance on a team, and how well their team worked together.”
According to Dr. Sweet, “Pre- and post-assessments measured the students' knowledge and perceptions of professional roles, individual roles on a team, and overall team functioning. Pooled data from two years of students showed significant improvement in familiarity with the education and roles of each discipline, improvement in individual communication and teamwork skills, and improved team functioning. In short, the case-based pedagogy using interprofessional student teams effectively allowed students to learn about each profession's role on the team and gain teamwork skills.”
Dr. Sweet is on the executive committee of the Michigan Center for Interprofessional Education, which is housed at the College of Pharmacy. This initiative spans ten U-M health science schools across its three campuses, and works toward transforming the future of collaborative health practice. “Breaking down the silos that exist in health science education and practice, and learning from and respecting each other’s professions, is essential to produce graduates who are better equipped to solve some of healthcare’s most pressing challenges,” explains Dr. Sweet. “While TBCDM and other didactic efforts are important, intentional IPE efforts must expand into the practice setting in order to shape a consistent interprofessional practice model.”