OPEN ACCESSAugust 21, 2013

A Computer Supported Interprofessional Education Initiative: Using Technology to Advance Interprofessionalism

    Kellie Smith, RN, MSN1, Reena Antony, BSN2, Sokha Koeuth3, Lauren Collins4, Anthony Frisby5
    1 Thomas Jefferson University, Jefferson School of Nursing
    2 Thomas Jefferson University
    3 Thomas Jefferson University
    4 Thomas Jefferson University
    5 Thomas Jefferson University


    Introduction: A long-term strategic goal of Thomas Jefferson University's InterProfessional Education Center (JCIPE) was identified to “create innovative learning environments that support interprofessional education including state-of-the-art technologies.” In actualizing this goal, Jefferson's interprofessional education (IPE) curriculum, the Health Mentor Program (HMP), was enhanced with computer-supported collaborative learning techniques to assist student teams with group processing, team building, and reflection. Combining traditional IPE activities with technology-supported components incorporates advantages of both delivery methods. This mixed methodology combines rewarding face-to-face interactions while also providing increased flexibility, reflection, and depth of discussion that the online environment affords. Methods: The Jefferson HMP is a 2-year interprofessional learning experience for nursing, medical, pharmacy, occupational, physical, and couples and family therapy students in which teams of students are paired with a person who has one or more chronic illnesses (i.e., a health ‘mentor’). Over the course of the program, teams of students visit a person with a chronic disease or impairment while completing a series of module team assignments. As part of these modules, student teams complete comprehensive life and health histories; assess wellness; develop home and medication safety plans; and create individualized action plans for their health mentors to promote healthy behaviors using computer technology tools such as wiki sites, asynchronous discussion boards and online surveys. Results: Most students expressed satisfaction with the online discussion board format. Students generally reported satisfaction with the accessing and using the asynchronous discussion board. Course evaluation demonstrated that the wiki was easy to use and facilitated team communication; in fact, 73% to 91% of students from all six health professions agreed it was user friendly and allowed for team and individual contribution. Discussion: With 2 years of experience leading online discussion boards, we have found that it is best if the program is optional for both student teams and faculty. We now present this option at the orientation of the IPE program and allow student teams to decide together whether they prefer this format or would prefer to debrief face to face. Additionally, some faculty prefer to facilitate online discussion boards given hectic and already full teaching schedules; by working online, this allows them to lead an IPE discussion when they might not otherwise have time in their daily schedules to facilitate in-person sessions.

    Educational Objectives

    By the end of the module, the learner will be able to:

    1. Identify strategies for the integration and creation of innovative learning environments for interprofessional education including computer-supported communication technologies.

    2. Describe and value the contributions of each member of the interprofessional health care team utilizing asynchronous learning technology.

    3. Complete comprehensive life and health histories, assess wellness, develop home and medication safety plans, and create individualized healthy living action plans for a person with a chronic illness or impairment utilizing computer-supported collaborative learning techniques to assist in reflection and team building.

    4. Recognize the perspective of the patient and state the value of patient-centered team care.

    5. Appreciate how a person's health conditions or impairments interact with personal and environmental factors.

    6. Identify the aspects of a person's life and health history and wellness plans that are important to other disciplines, which also contribute to a comprehensive plan of care.