Introduction: Interprofessional education occurs when students/trainees of two or more healthcare professions engage in learning with, from, and about each other, and is viewed as a primary mechanism through which to improve interprofessional teamwork and the quality and safety of patient care. This Interprofessional standardized patient exercise (ISPE) was created to provide health professions students with a structured learning experience working within an interprofessional health care team. The case of “Elsie Smith” involves multiple complex chronic medical conditions in an older adult with many needs and limited resources. It highlights the need to address among other aspects the medical, functional status, and social domains. It is accordingly designed to be relevant to many health professions. It can easily be adapted according to the types of health professions students available. Methods: Students work in interprofessional teams to interview the standardized patient and create an integrated, comprehensive patient care plan. Faculty facilitators from participating schools/programs observe the students and lead debriefing sessions. The exercise takes approximately 3 hours. Results: This ISPE was implemented at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine in 2012 with 261 students participating from the schools/programs of dentistry, medicine, nursing, nutrition, pharmacy, physical therapy, and social work. All students were in their third or fourth year, except for the nurse practitioner and social work students, who were in their second year of training, and dieticians who were completing a 1-year internship. Achievement of the ISPE’s learning objectives was evaluated through student and faculty surveys, which showed overall positive responses. Students agreed that they learned about the patient care roles of other healthcare professionals during the exercise (mean = 5.22, SD = 0.96; all items reported on a 6-point scale), increased their comfort working collaboratively in an interprofessional team (mean 4.99, SD = 1.04), and would recommend the ISPE to fellow trainees in their profession (mean = 5.09, SD = 1.05). Faculty (n = 47) agreed that the ISPE enhances student understanding of the patient-care roles of different healthcare professionals (mean = 5.81, SD = 0.40) and fosters communication between participating health professions students (mean = 5.83, SD = 0.38). Participating faculty would also recommend the ISPE to learners in their profession (mean 5.96, SD = 0.20). Discussion: From the open-ended survey responses students clearly valued the opportunity to observe each other with a standardized patient, and to formulate an interprofessional team care plan together. They also appreciated the opportunity to learn about the roles and expertise of other health professions and to educate others about their own professional roles.
By the end of this module, the learner will be able to:
- Demonstrate the ability to effectively communicate and collaborate with students from other health professions.
- Demonstrate the ability to efficiently interview and assess a patient with multiple chronic illnesses, showing sensitivity to a patient’s personal needs and resources.
- Develop a comprehensive care plan in collaboration with other health professions students to meet the patient’s healthcare needs.
- Describe the role of other healthcare professionals in caring for a patient with multiple chronic illnesses.
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