Pilot program launched for first-year health-science students


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As being able to work with professionals in various healthcare fields grows increasingly important, an event in the IMU on Monday night was a step toward instilling this ability into first-year health-science students.

More than 500 students from the University of Iowa Colleges of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, and Public Health participated in the event in the IMU Main Ballroom.

“Interprofessional education is important to the patients and population we serve,” said Tanya Uden-Holman, an associate dean for education and student affairs in the public-health school. “It’s about better, safer, and higher quality patient-centered care.”

In 2011, the Interprofessional Education Collaborative, consisting of six national health-profession education associations, published its four competency domains for interprofessional education.

These include values and ethics for interprofessional practice, roles and responsibilities, interprofessional communication, and teams and teamwork.

“Not only are these competencies essential for the effectiveness of students’ future practice, but they are imperative to the successful transformation of our current system of health care delivery, practice and cost,” Uden-Holman said.

Monday’s event marked the beginning of what will be an 18-month course, titled Interprofessional Skills and Team Based Health Care. Students will work in teams throughout their time together to solve real-life patient scenarios.

Robert Shields, the head of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, said his students will earn one-credit hour for the experience and that the other departments are offering comparable credit.

“It’s hard to have strong interprofessional relationships if you don’t have well-grounded professionalism,” Shields said.

He highlighted traits such as respect, responsibility, honesty, communication skills, and trust.

Uden-Holman and Shields are both members of the UI Interprofessional Education Steering Committee, which has put on workshops and hosted speakers to better educate faculty members about interprofessional education.

Beginning with icebreakers aimed at familiarizing students with their team members, the event later shifted its focus to discussing current public health issues such as the controversial Affordable Care Act.

Dean of the UI College of Public Health, Sue Curry, served as the evening’s keynote speaker.

“Tonight’s event is a first of its kind in our health sciences colleges — bringing together early career health profession students in dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and public health — to really start learning about, with, and from each other,” she said.

Several representatives from the UI Students for Interprofessional Education also took part in the event’s presentation lineup.

Since its official launch last March, the group has organized two learning interprofessional education activities and attracted a high amount of student interest, said Lori Benz, program director with the public-health school adminstration.

“The basic objective is to engage these students in understanding the importance of interprofessional teamwork in clinical and community-based environments,” Benz said.

Molly Strieker, a first-year nursing student at the UI, said she is looking forward to meeting other healthcare professionals, while at the same time bringing her own strengths to the table.

“I think you can kind of get in this like-minded kind of mindset where you think you’re going to only be working with other nurses, but that’s not the case,” Strieker said. “You need to be able to collaborate with other health-care professionals.”

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