Health Care Team Challenge: A Versatile Model for Interprofessional Education

Publication ID Published Volume
9287 December 11, 2012 8


The Health Care Team ChallengeTM (HCTC) is an innovative, versatile, low cost interprofessional (IP) learning activity that is used to simulate “real-life” team based problem solving. The HCTC model can easily be adapted to meet core competencies for collaborative care in all health professions programs. Key characteristics of a HCTC are described and one example of how the HCTC model has been successfully implemented is highlighted. The HCTC is a clinical cased-based competition between two or more interprofessional teams of students representing at least two health and social service disciplines (6-8 is ideal). Student participants receive the initial patient scenario at least one week, preferably 2 to 3 weeks, in advance of the live event.

Teams are instructed to work collaboratively to formulate a patient-centered plan of care. On the day of the event, the teams present their plan in front of a live audience of faculty, peers and community members. Then, teams are presented with additional information relevant to the case, challenging each team to adjust its management plan to incorporate the new information. Additionally, teams are asked to respond to “process questions” such as, “How did your team resolve conflicts?” and “What do you view as the strengths of your team?” Teams alternate in the presentation of the care plans and responses to team process questions. At the conclusion of the event, teams are evaluated by an IP panel of judges that may include the patient or family member, faculty, and / or a practicing community-based interprofessional care team. An “audience choice award” may also be presented. Teams are judged on both the quality of the management plan and the level of collaboration as illustrated by responses to the team process questions. All team participants, judges, and event sponsors receive recognition for their involvement. Winning team members may also receive prizes or scholarship funding.

From the perspective of faculty and students, the HCTC successfully provides an interactive learning opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes outlined in the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC) core competencies. At the conclusion of the event, students completed an online evaluation for purposes of improving future HCTC events. 100% of students (n=54) stated that participating in the HCTC (at WSU/EWU/UW) was worth their time. Evaluations included the following comments:

“I was able to do as a student what I hope to do as a working professional. My team bonded and worked together very well. It gave me team experience with health care disciplines I have never even spoken to as a student. I have wanted this kind of experience since entering my program. Experiences rewire the brain, and this was a wonderfully positive experience that no book learning or same-discipline team projects can duplicate. I am really glad I got to do this!!”

“I became much more aware over these two weeks how much there is to know in health-care, and that I really can't know it all myself. Neither can anyone else, and it is in the patient's best interest to have multiple specialties putting their ideas together rather than working independently.”

“It was one of the best experiences of my educational career because it showed me where I fit in to the big picture of collaborative health care. It also taught me a lot about the other fields that I will have contact with once I graduate and begin working.”

“Participating in the HCTC gave me a huge appreciation for where my knowledge stops and other health care professionals starts. Knowing that will greatly help me to utilize them appropriately and seek out their expertise in the future.”

Participants were encouraged to complete the Readiness for Interprofessional Learning Survey (RIPLS) pre- and post participation in the HCTC (Appendix D). The 19 item questionnaire measures attitudes about teamwork, collaboration, professional identity and roles and responsibilities. Of the students (n=12) that completed the RIPLS both before and after the HCTC , significant differences in the paired t-test scores were detected for two questions. Following the HCTC, participants were more likely to agree (M = -.417, SD = .515) that shared learning with other health care students would help them communicate better with patients and other professionals (p = .017). Students were less likely to agree (M = . 583, SD = .900) that the function of nurses and therapists is mainly to provide support for doctors (p = .046). All students agreed (22%) or strongly agreed (78%) that team-working skills are essential for all health care students to learn and that patients would ultimately benefit if health care students worked together to solve patient problems. All students also agreed (44%) or strongly agreed (56%) that learning with other students would help them become a more effective member of a health care team and shared learning with other health care students would help them to communicate better with patients and other professionals.

In addition to asking participants to complete the RIPLS, we encourage students to complete an on-line evaluation for purposes of improving future HCTC events. The following are sample questions that may be used to solicit feedback:

What suggestions do you have for making the HCTC a better event next year?

Was participating in the HCTC worth your time? If yes, why? If no, why not?

If participation in the HCTC is required, faculty may wish to ask students to write a reflection on how the experience has changed their perception about providing collaborative patient centered care as a health care team. 


Richardson B, Gersh M, Potter N. Health care team challenge: a versatile model for interprofessional education. MedEdPORTAL Publications. 2012;8:9287.

Contains Information Suitable for Patient Education

Educational Objectives

  1. To work collaboratively with students from other health professions to maintain a climate of mutual respect and shared values.
  2. To place the interests of the patient / family at the center of their plan of care.
  3. To apply the knowledge of one’s own professional role and those of other team members to appropriately assess and address the health care needs of the patient / family.
  4. To communicate effectively with the patient / family and other members of the health care team.
  5. To listen actively and encourage ideas and opinions of other team members.
  6. To engage team members in shared patient-centered problem solving.
  7. To integrate the knowledge and experience of all team members to inform decisions, while respecting the patient’s values, priorities, and preferences for care.
  8. To constructively manage disagreements about values, roles, goals, and actions that may arise among team members.
  9. To practice leadership skills that support effective team work. 


  • Interprofessional Education Collaboration (IPEC), Multiprofessional Teamwork, HCTC

Prior Scholarly Dissemination

April, 2012 Western Institute for Nursing

2012 International Meeting for Simulation in Healthcare


  1. April, 2012 Western Institute for Nursing Symposium, “Overcoming the Barriers: Successful Models of Interprofessional Education”, Portland, OR.
  2. January, 2012 International Meeting for Simulation in Health Care expert panel, workshop, and poster presentation, “Health Care Team Challenge, A Versatile Interprofessional Simulation”, San Diego, CA.
  3. August, 2011 METI Regional Conference podium presentation, “Health Care Team Challenge; A Model for Interprofessional Education”. 

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