Collaboration is Key

Maryville hosts annual Health Professions Interprofessional Education Day

Students from the Myrtle E. and Earl E. Walker College of Health Professions worked together and learned more about each other’s disciplines during the annual Health Professions Interprofessional Education (IPE) Day.

The event brought together 180 students from Maryville’s music therapy, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech language pathology and rehabilitation counseling programs.

“The IPE Day was designed for different disciplines to learn with, from and about each other to improve collaboration and the quality of patient care,” said Rebecca Birkenmeier, assistant professor of occupational therapy. “There is a huge benefit for our students to learn how to interact with other health professionals, and what every health professional brings to the table, before they graduate so that they are more successful when they enter the workforce.”

Organized into small groups, Maryville students worked through a series of case studies. For each, they explored how their individual disciplines would approach the patient’s care. They then discussed the patient’s care when multiple disciplines were involved.

One of the case studies was about “Arthur,” a 55-year-old man entering inpatient rehabilitation to address complications from a stroke. In addition to returning to activities of daily living, “Arthur” wished to return to work as a mail carrier as quickly as possible.

The Maryville students discussed a scenario where an occupational therapist determined “Arthur” needed to perform bathing as part of his goals. But when the occupational therapist arrived, the patient had already been bathed by the nursing staff. The students shared how they would react to the situation and what strategies they would use to resolve the conflict.

“I really enjoyed learning from the different professions and realizing how we will collaborate in our professional lives,” said Madison Heaman, who is studying speech-language pathology. “The day taught me that good communication is the key to providing the highest level of care possible for our patients.”

Nursing student Courtney Eisenbeis agreed the day helped rekindle her passion for patient care. “Being a health professional is about doing what’s best for the patient,” she said. “I appreciated learning different strategies to prevent communication errors, which reminded me to always think big picture about the patient and what they need.”

The Health Professions IPE Day was overwhelmingly a success. Ninety-three percent of students said the learning activities helped them to better collaborate with other health professionals. Additionally, 99 percent of students said the learning activities helped promote effective communication while 98 percent of students said the day helped them to identify and describe their own profession’s abilities and contributions to a health care team.

“One of the best things about the day was seeing students find their place on a team,” said Ashlyn Cunningham, assistant professor of occupational therapy. “They learned how to voice their opinions while respecting others at the same time. We all have a different role to play but we’re most successful when we learn from one another.”

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