Magazine article American Nurse Today

Interprofessional Education Promotes Collaboration: A Program for Health Profession Students Nurtures Teamwork in a Hospital Setting

Magazine article American Nurse Today

Interprofessional Education Promotes Collaboration: A Program for Health Profession Students Nurtures Teamwork in a Hospital Setting

Article excerpt

In contemporary health care, inter-professional collaboration is a marker of excellence. Evidence links effective collaborative practices with the best patient outcomes, patient satisfaction, and staff satisfaction. According to the American Organization of Nurse Executives (AONE), "Excellent working relationships between nurses and physicians are key to creating a productive, safe, and satisfying practice environment. The patient and the patient's family benefit from care delivered by a team practicing within this environment."

Outcome competencies for health profession programs highlight collaboration and high-quality care-- the underlying skills for which must be fostered purposefully. Yet few students have opportunities to interact with students in other health professions. Not surprisingly, they learn the skills for clinically relevant teamwork serendipitously, rarely with targeted training or mentoring.

Defining interprofessional education

Inter-professional education (IPE) occurs when two or more professions learn with, from, and about each other to improve collaboration and quality. IPE develops and strengthens inter-professional relationships. In a 2003 report, the Institute of Medicine endorsed IPE as a strategy to improve the overall quality of health care.

In healthcare settings, the point of care is our playing field, so to speak--where the healthcare team comes together to deliver care. Members of a sports team execute new plays best when they're able to learn and practice together on the playing field. Healthcare teams are no different. Our players need the opportunity to learn and practice together on the playing field so they can develop collaborative skills to execute the best possible care practices.

IPE isn't easy to implement. It involves much more than just putting students from differing health professions in a classroom together. True IPE promotes sharing ideas and decision making as crucial to interactive learning.

Quality and Safety Program for Students

The Quality and Safety Program for Students at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pennsylvania (part of Geisinger Health System and a Magnet[R]-designated hospital) was designed for health profession students. Its innovative approach nurtures inter-professional teamwork in a hospital setting and offers education in basic quality-improvement tools and opportunities to apply skills to clinical problems. The program gives students a safe opportunity to learn about teams by working on teams. Faculty includes nurses, physicians, and educators, who draw from their own partnerships to mentor and model inter-professional quality teams.

The program is a modification of a quality improvement (QI) training program for physicians and nurses in acute-care settings. Our facility has offered IPE courses since 2006 to encourage collaboration and improve quality of care. Two members of our core faculty participated in the first offering. They emerged highly motivated to undertake quality projects and energized to refine the course.

Over the next 4 years, the QI training course was revised each time it was offered in an attempt to emphasize benefits and address shortfalls. Clinician feedback clearly conveyed that QI training was valued for its suitability to practice settings. For most nurses and physicians, this was their first formal QI course as well as their first experience with IPE. Participants expressed surprise at the complexity of others' clinical responsibilities and appreciated the training activities as opportunities to share perspectives.

Despite the benefits, everyone agreed the IPE training model is difficult to incorporate in an acute-care setting. Nurses and physicians continuously face the demands of clinical practice and hectic workflows, which can limit the time available for thoughtful discussions. Yet they all endorsed the salience of IPE as preparation for the competencies required for professional practice, including QI and teamwork skills. …

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