Health sciences students learn to work together

Health sciences students

About 800 students and 90 faculty members from 11 of UIC’s health sciences programs attended the fourth annual IPE Immersion Day April 13 at the UIC Forum.

When patients enter a care center, they interact with nurses, doctors and pharmacists. Their records are acquired and stored by staff who work in health informatics. Some patients require specialists, such as occupational therapists, physical therapists or social workers.

Because there are so many moving pieces involved in the health care puzzle, collaboration is essential, said Mary Keehn, associate dean for clinical affairs in the College of Applied Health Sciences.

“There’s a lot of evidence that many of the errors made in health care are tied to poor communication and things falling through the cracks,” said Keehn, special assistant to the vice provost for programs and planning for interprofessional education.

“You really have to train people to collaborate. “What students get out of this event is a better understanding of the roles and responsibilities of other professions that are involved.”

About 800 students and 90 faculty members from 11 of UIC’s health sciences programs gathered April 13 at the UIC Forum to boost their collaboration skills at the fourth annual IPE Immersion Day, sponsored by the Collaborative for Excellence in Interprofessional Education.

“UIC can be a leader in interprofessional education and practice,” said Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs Robert Barish, who opened the event. “We have the knowledge and capacity to define, implement and test new methods and models of care.”

Health sciences students were assigned tables and collaborated with their peers to discuss fictional patient scenarios. They were divided so that a variety of disciplines were present at each table — from physical therapy and medicine to nursing and nutrition. Faculty members joined each table as group facilitators, guiding students to share their perspectives.

The students watched videos filmed at the Graham Clinical Performance Center with UIC faculty members as actors. The videos focused on a patient with chronic back pain and a substance abuse problem who was referred to a pain clinic. Two scenarios were shown, illustrating strong and weak collaboration among the medical professionals.

“The team that has poor collaboration is talking over each other, ignoring what each other is saying and treating the patient like they’re not there,” Keehn said. “It’s meant to create some shock value so students pay a lot of attention.”

Students spent three of the event’s four hours talking with their peers at their tables, said Frank Borgers, who helped design the curriculum.

“We wanted students to think more deeply about what modern medicine looks like and why collaboration is really needed,” said Borgers, clinical assistant professor of health policy and administration. “Every table was heavily engaged in discussion, and most of the time we had to cut conversations short.”

More than 200 health sciences students and 25 faculty members from the Peoria and Urbana campuses participated in an Interprofessional Immersion Day April 5 at the Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center in Peoria. The Rockford campus hosted its immersion day Jan. 18, with 145 nursing, pharmacy and medicine students in attendance.

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