Close to 1,400 health-care students log on to learn about the importance of interprofessional collaboration

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

On March 21, Waterloo Optometry’s first-year students participated in the seventh annual Interprofessional Education (IPE) Day – a day that brings together health-care students from across Ontario to learn about how they can work together to improve health outcomes for patients.

Approximately 1,400 students logged on to this virtual event from the University of Waterloo, University of Windsor and Western University, including students from dentistry, medicine, nursing, nutrition, occupational therapy, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, psychology, and social work.

Dr. Ian MacLean on Zoom during his talk
To kick off the day, students heard from Dr. Ian MacLean, a physician and laryngectomee who shared his experience living with and being treated for cancer. Not only did Dr. MacLean’s presentation provide students with a first-hand account of a patient’s experience with illness, but also highlighted the important role of interprofessional collaboration to patient and family care in a panel discussion with members of his health-care team.   

Following Dr. McLean’s talk, students were separated into smaller, student-facilitated break-out groups to discuss a specific patient case. Within their break-out groups, students were exposed to the scope of practice, roles and priorities of other health-care practitioner fields in relation to their own and collaborated to identify strategies on how they could work together and communicate effectively across disciplines to ensure their patient would receive barrier-free care.

For the School of Optometry & Vision Science, IPE Day’s spotlight on collaborative care is an important part of a first-year student’s learning, as it aligns directly with the School’s commitment to training the next generation of Canada’s optometrists to implement a patient-centred model of care in their own practices.  

First-year Waterloo Optometry student Nina Yan says her experience with IPE Day taught her some critical lessons about the importance of interprofessional collaboration that she’ll take with her when she begins practicing. “IPE Day was an eye-opening opportunity (pun intended!) that really helped me understand the importance of each health-care profession, alongside Optometry, and how we could work toward an ultimate goal of providing holistic patient-centred care together,” says Yan.

IPE Day is supported by the South Western Academic Health Network and with additional support from the University of Waterloo, Western University and Windsor University.