(Inter-professional) Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

Last Monday, I had the rare opportunity of having dinner with Dr. Edelstein, Executive director of the Universities at Shady Grove, and conversing with him about graduate student life at USG. From this discussion with Dr. E., I learned firsthand of some very exciting plans currently in the works for Building IV that will benefit many graduate students in the near future. He assured me that some of these plans are no secret… so I’m happy to share them with you all here!

Perhaps the most novel, and unexpected, thing that Building IV will bring for USG is an inter-professional clinic that provides care for real patients from the community. This clinic will consist of students and faculty from various disciplines. There has been quite a bit of research on the benefits of inter-professional education (IPE), with results that include improved student attitudes and knowledge about other professions as well as improved patient health outcomes. IPE is something that is being increasingly incorporated into professional school curricula across the country. So to have our very own IPE clinic at USG is absolutely incredible.

The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) is actually at the forefront of this initiative. One example of how UMB has prioritized inter-professional education is by holding its annual IPE Day each spring. I was able to attend the fifth annual IPE Day this past Wednesday.. and it was a very positive experience. At the beginning of the program, students from the UMB Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Law, Social Work, Nursing, and Physical Therapy were introduced to a young couple and their baby boy. In that auditorium, hearts broke when we learned about the baby’s numerous medical conditions. At such a young age, this baby is already on fourteen different medications and requires a ventilator to breathe.

We listened as the baby’s parents described the challenges they face in taking care of their child including the lack of reliable transportation to see over ten different medical specialists for each of his conditions. This family is one of many that have benefitted from President’s Clinic, UMB’s inter-professional clinic in Baltimore. While caring for their child is still extremely difficult, it’s been made at least a little easier with some help from the team at President’s clinic. Pharmacy students, for example, optimized the baby’s medication regimen so that he only has to take medicine twice a day instead of every few hours. And I believe it was nursing students who showed the parents that the baby’s formula can be prepared as a large batch in a blender, which is much easier than the method used previously.

Many of us went home from IPE Day feeling inspired to effectively communicate with, collaborate with, and learn more about students in other professions. Team based care is not a new concept – it’s been around for many years. But it’s time more schools make a conscious effort to prioritize it because clearly, IPE can make a real difference in the lives of patients and their families.

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