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Maziar Fazel Darbandi (top right), Megan Peterson (middle left), Sue Zhang (middle right) and the rest of the interprofessional collaborative care team #331 interview a simulated patient (bottom center).

Teamwork skills developed through interprofessional curriculum

January 18, 2021 — 

As part of the interprofessional collaborative care (IPCC) program, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences students learn how to communicate effectively as a team, in person and through written online discussions. What was unplanned last term was that they received experience communicating as a team through online video. 

At the start of each term, the IPCC students normally meet for an in-person event, but when students met during the fall term, it wasn’t face-to-face. Because of the threat of COVID-19, the students took part in the event via Zoom. During the session the students interviewed a simulated patient and took turns asking a series of questions about the patient’s health.

During the fall term, they also took part in a series of online discussions and ended the semester by handing in a reflection exercise.

All first- and second-year students in the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences participate in the IPCC curriculum. For the 2020-21 academic year, 609 first-year and 565 second-year learners were involved in the program.

Dr. Moni Fricke, director of the Office of Interprofessional Collaboration (OIPC), said the ultimate goal of the curriculum and activities of the OIPC, which coordinates IPCC, is for learners to have a foundation in interprofessional collaboration for patient-centered care.

“Fully engaged learners should be at a point of conscious competence when entering their health professional careers, planning and providing care with the client in authentic and meaningful collaboration with other members of the team,” Fricke said. “Patients and clients should feel confident that their health-care team communicates and functions as a whole, resulting in better health-care outcomes and improved quality care.”

UM Today is following three students from team #331, one of 70 second-year teams, over the course of two years (read the first story in the series and the second article.) We spoke with Sue Zhang, nursing; Megan Peterson, occupational therapy; and Maziar Fazel Darbandi, medicine, about their IPCC experiences over the fall 2020 term.

Maziar Fazel Darbandi: With everything being virtual, the term was a little different, but overall it was good. The IPCC activities during the winter term were similar to last year but with a new spin on the topics we were discussing, which made it refreshing and interesting.

Sue Zhang: I felt that this semester was different from previous semesters. The first thing, because of COVID’s impact, we had to do the face-to-face meeting through Zoom. The other thing was that we had a simulated patient during our face-to-face meeting, and it was pretty interesting.

Megan Peterson: In our first year we learned a lot about health promotion and using a holistic view of people through health, whereas this year we really focused on safety and quality of our communication as a health-care team for the safety of our clients. It felt more hands on and we had a lot of case studies.

What did you learn this term?

MP: It was interesting to see how typically it’s not just one health-care profession who cares about a certain aspect of somebody’s health. We all use the information that’s collected. It was interesting that some of the questions that I might not have thought about as an occupational therapist (OT) were pertinent to other health care professionals, but when I went to make my assessments for that client the information that the other health care professionals gained was helpful for me as well.

SZ: We learned how to function well as a team, how to communicate with other health-care professionals, and how to collaborate to solve a case study.

MFD: While we were prepping for the interview with the simulated patient, we got to learn how the other students’ unique perspectives guide them down a different way of diagnosing or a way of treating someone. And then when you bring all those perspectives together, you’re able to provide the most holistic care to the patient. I really enjoyed learning about that.

What was the face-to-face event like via Zoom?

SZ: At first I was very unsure about how the Zoom meeting would go. In the end, it went pretty good. I felt it was more effective doing the event over Zoom because they can divide us into lots of different groups and meet with the simulated patient without having to go on campus.

MFD: It was good. Zoom sessions for things like that aren’t ideal, but it was organized well. It’s hard to read people’s body language and things of that nature on Zoom, especially when you’re interviewing a patient, but I think we made the most out of the situation and still tried to learn as much as we could.

MP: I was thinking how the interview would have been much different and feel a little more uncomfortable for the client in-person because you would have had all seven of us sitting around a room interviewing them. I feel if I was a client going to see my health care team, and that’s how it was it would be kind of nerve-wracking and a little scary having all these health-care professionals asking questions, whereas on Zoom it was a little different. I think over Zoom people might be more willing to discuss with you and feel more comfortable because they are in their own home and they weren’t having to come to an office to chat with us.

Based on your IPCC experience so far, what are the keys to working efficiently as a team?

MP: I think the number one would be communication. Communication is so key not just for the care of the client and everyone being on the same page, but also for client safety, making sure that if one health-care professional learns something that everyone else should know it too.

MFD: I think being organized is the most important thing. I think some of the other students in my group did a great job of organizing us to begin with. Being organized allowed us to be as efficient as possible and when you’re efficient that allows you to not take too much time out of other things and do the task at hand.

SZ: Communication is the key point. Whenever I have a question or I’m not sure about something I speak up in the team and ask what others’ opinions are or what others feel.

What are your thoughts heading into the final term of the IPCC curriculum?

MFD: I think being in medical school and going into clerkship next year I will be in the hospital so IPCC is going to do a lot to prep me in a way for working in a health-care setting and knowing what other health-care professionals offer. When I have questions about specific things, I know I can turn to my colleagues because they have expertise in that field.

SZ: I feel like through the IPCC activities I learned how to apply my knowledge and recognize my role as a nurse on a health-care team. I feel in the future I will function better while communicating with patients and other health professionals. I hope to learn more about patient safety next term.

MP: Since our last IPCC team meeting, many of the other students on my team have had opportunities to have in-person experiences with clients during their fieldwork placements. I will be interested to hear how they have applied what we have learned during IPCC and any discrepancies that they have noticed in the health-care field. I am excited to keep learning from my team and applying the knowledge in my own education and placements.

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