Thursday, July 1, 2010

Using Standardized Patients to Promote Interprofessional Learning

The importance of interprofessional education (IPE) has been recognized on both the national and international level. In a report published in 2003, the Institute of Medicine called for significant changes in healthcare professional education in order to meet the changing healthcare environment. They made the following recommendation: “All health professionals should be educated to deliver patient-centered care as members of an interdisciplinary team, emphasizing evidence-based practice, quality improvement approaches and informatics,” (Greinder and Knebel. “Health Professions Education: A Bridge to Quality,” 2003). In addition, an interprofessional team-based approach to chronic illness is one of the essential elements in the Chronic Care Model, a well-described model for designing healthcare systems to deliver high-quality chronic illness care. IPE activities can serve as a platform for other innovative cases to be developed that can be used collectively by the schools, and with potential for expansion for use by the health care professionals at the Medical Center.

A centerpiece of the new Teaching and Learning Center is the Kanbar Center for Simulation, Clinical Skills and Telemedicine Education. Clinical skills are often taught by using highly trained actors to play patients – standardized patients. These standardized patients are seen in mock examination rooms by students who are able to practice their history taking, physical exam and communication skills in a safe environment.

The new Teaching and Learning Center has a strong focus on Interprofessional Health Education (IPHE) and over the past year Maria Wamsley, Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine, and colleagues from the schools of dentistry, nursing, pharmacy and physical therapy have collaborated on a very successful pilot curriculum that brings interprofessional teams of students together to evaluate a patient and collaboratively formulate a treatment plan. The project was funded in part by the Instructional Grants Program administered by the UCSF Library, which focused its awards on IPHE starting in 2009. Goals of the project are to enhance knowledge of other healthcare professionals, foster collaboration in patient management and to improve communication skills.

Sixty-nine students and 17 faculty facilitators participated in the pilot during 2009-2010 and the response from participants has been overwhelmingly positive. Overall faculty and student satisfaction with activity is high. The exercises improves student attitudes towards working in teams in the areas of “Team Value” and “Team Efficiency” and students report learning about the roles of other professionals and increased comfort in working collaboratively.

Once the new Kanbar Center opens Dr. Wamsley and colleagues plan to expand the pilot to accommodate 200 students and improve integration of activity into existing curricula for each professional school.

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