Symposium nurtures health care teamwork across disciplines
A wounded warrior and his family were the focus of almost 200 students and faculty during the two sessions of the Waldron College of Health and Human Services’ (WCHHS) Interprofessional Education and Practice Symposium on Nov. 3.
The event introduced students from seven disciplines and three colleges to the dynamics of interprofessional teamwork. They consulted and worked with colleagues to prepare a comprehensive plan on behalf of a hypothetical patient, Sgt. Zachary Woods, and his family to deal with a daunting set of physical, cognitive, social and medical conditions.
"This is what you will be doing,” said Kerry Vandergrift, associate professor of social work and a member of the event’s six-member planning committee, during the session’s opening remarks about interprofessional collaboration. “There will be different values, ethics and competencies.”
The symposium, now in its seventh year, included graduate and undergraduate students from the nursing, communication sciences and disorders (COSD), occupational therapy, physical therapy, social work, psychology and recreational therapy programs. In more than 20 groups, moderated by a faculty member, the students assessed and developed care plans from their professional perspectives based on the detailed case study of the challenges facing Sgt. Woods on the road to recovery and the impact upon his family, or caregiver support team.
“The exercise provides so many opportunities to learn from each other,” said Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy Will Kolb. “We know so much about our specialties, but we don’t know much about the other specialties who are also working on behalf of the patient.”
For the first time in the seven-year history of the event, two sessions were held to explore the scope of the practices represented and their commonalities and differences.
The Interprofessional Education and Practice Symposium was hosted by the Waldron College Center for Interprofessional Education and Practice (CIPEP), a WCHHS initiative to focus on preparing health care and human service providers to transform service delivery through collaborative practice.
Jakari Robinson and her colleagues were tasked with assessing Sgt. Wood and his family, developing a problem list, identifying the components of a proposed care plan as well as barriers to success that would need to be overcome. In the process, they were enlightened by their fellow students' different assessments, methodologies and viewpoints.
“We had to negotiate roles and responsibilities after first learning from other in fields we don’t see often,” said Robinson.
A nursing colleague, Natalie Mitchell, a senior from Stuart, Virginia, talked about the process.
“There were so many needs that we had to prioritize as a group to come up with the focus for a holistic approach,” Mitchell said.
In their conversations, the aspiring health care professionals described their disciplines, protocols and terminology as they crafted proposed approaches that would help, but not overwhelm, Sgt. Woods and his caregivers.
To Amber Biedler, a senior social work major from Roanoke, team building was an important value of the exercise.
“It takes a team effort to help our clients and we were able to work with other fields today and learn the many ways by we can each contribute,” Biedler said.
Wendy Downey, assistant professor of nursing, said she thought the collaborative activity was more powerful than classroom discussion.
“The students in the many disciplines found they can bring a lot to the table and the patient provides common ground,” Downey said.