Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

The SEARCH Project: Acquainting Students in the Health Professions with Interprofessional Care

Academic journal article Journal of Allied Health

The SEARCH Project: Acquainting Students in the Health Professions with Interprofessional Care

Article excerpt

The SEARCH NH project (Student Experiences and Rotations in Community Health in New Hampshire) was a 3-year collaboration of the New Hampshire Area Health Education Center, four educational institutions, and four community health centers. The purpose was to introduce students in the health professions to interprofessional care in underserved areas. It was funded by the National Health Services Corps. The background of the project, its development, and findings are described. Seventy-four students from undergraduate and graduate nursing programs, a physician assistant program, and a medical school participated. Prior to a focused immersion experience in a community health center, they were exposed didactically to concepts of interprofessional care. Findings from the collaborative project are reported using a clinical microsystems framework to analyze student reflections on their experiences and resultant learning. In quotes offered as exemplars, students report increased appreciation of the clinical microsystem's 5 Ps: purpose, professionals, patients, patterns, and processes in interprofessional work. J Allied Health 2015; 44(2):91-95

THE QUALITY MANAGEMENT guru W. Edward Deming wrote of his hospital in which he despaired for quality in a system where the key participants performed their duties in isolation of one another.1 Twenty years later, healthcare leaders continue to reflect on Deming's comments about the provision of care within professional silos.2-4 Educational experiences for various health professions occur in isolation from each other. Educational content differs for each profession, educational goals are distinct, and educational levels (undergraduate, advanced degree, post-graduate education) are unique to each group. However, the demands of care suggest that tightly linked, collaborative, trusting relationships are necessary for safe, effective health care.5

Examples of interprofessional initiatives in education include case studies of discharge planning with occupational therapy, physician assistant, and physical therapy students6 and interprofessional analysis of functional movement with kinesiology, physical therapy, and occupational therapy students.7 Our project, Student Experiences and Rotations in Community Health in New Hampshire (SEARCH NH), attempts to bridge the educational and clinical gap by incorporating classroom and clinical interprofessional components. This paper provides affirmative evidence for an interprofessional education (IPE) and practice project that relies upon shared responsibility for quality outcomes. The purpose of this project was to pilot a novel approach to interprofessional training designed to integrate didactic and clinical experiences, to incorporate core faculty from each discipline, and to utilize community health centers (CHCs). This article details the success and challenges of the project.

IPE: A Foundation for Practice

As intuitive as interprofessional collaboration sounds, it is a fairly recent focus in healthcare. Most national healthcare organizations have since stated their expectations of interprofessional practice.8-11 In addition, interprofessional care has been pressured by increasingly astute consumers, the burgeoning healthcare body of knowledge, the "do not pay" compensation policies, and the cost of treating chronic illness. Consumer advocates are asking questions about their care and demanding that providers share information. In its "Speak Up" brochure series,12 The Joint Commission recently joined patient voices to demand accountability. While the report details a variety of health care situations, it suggests-implicitly if not overtly-that providers are not effectively communicating about patients or to them.

Along with increasing agreement among national healthcare organizations that interprofessional collaboration is essential, models such as Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety (TeamSTEPPS(TM)),13 the Hospital Engagement Network,10 and The Dartmouth Institute's (TDI) clinical microsystems framework14 are examples. …

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