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400+ students from four healthcare professions team up for Interprofessional Education Day

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Last week, the first year class of pharmacy students travelled to the London Health Sciences Centre University Hospital (LHSC) for a day-long interprofessional education (IPE) event with Western University medicine and dentistry and Waterloo optometry learners. 

Collaboration between healthcare providers from different fields is essential for optimal patient care.  Interprofessional teamwork is linked not only to improved patient outcomes, but also to decreased healthcare costs and a more efficient and effective working environment for healthcare providers. 

Dave Edwards speaking to an auditorium full of students.

Opening remarks came from the Deans and Directors of participating institutions

For that reason, IPE – learning initiatives that involve students and speakers of various healthcare professions – is a fundamental part of the curriculum at the School of Pharmacy. By supporting enterprises that bring trainees of different professions together, our students have an early opportunity to build their networks and practice cross-discipline cooperation.

IPE Day was a joint event developed by lead organizers Kevin Fung and Krista Helleman, physicians at LHSC and faculty at Western University Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, and Elaine Lillie, the School of Pharmacy’s Director of Interprofessional Education and Curriculum Development. Hosted in London, the event was also attended by students in physiotherapy and speech language pathology, bringing the total number of attendees to over 400.

Four healthcare professions sitting in chairs. Dr MacLean is holding a mic and speaking.

Dr MacLean shares his unique perspective as both a healthcare provider and a patient.

The day began with a patient panel featuring Dr. Ian MacLean. Dr. MacLean is a physician, but at IPE Day he spoke primarily from a patient’s perspective. A cancer survivor himself, he shared lessons on how vital interprofessional care was in the management of his cancer and in his recuperation after a laryngectomy.

It was interesting to see how Dr. MacLean’s perspectives of the different professions changed before and after his experience,” said pharmacy student Bradley Murphy. “By sharing his story, he enabled us to see how so many professions can truly have an impact on the life of one person.

Student group discussing a patient case and looking thoughtful.

Bradley (center) and his group determine how healthcare providers would collaborate to best treat a refugee patient with cerebral palsy.

Students then split into 40 groups, mixing trainees from each program. In these groups, they brainstormed common stereotypes about different fields of study. Statements like ‘pharmacists move pills from a bigger bottle into a smaller bottle’ and ‘doctors drive expensive cars’ were shared, laughed about, and then discussed as facilitators from each institution helped debunk popular myths.

Students brainstorming stereotypes and labelling them on four large sheets of paper labelled 'doctors', 'dentists', 'pharamcists' and 'optometrists'.

Students brainstorm common stereotypes associated with each profession.

In small groups, the students also tackled patient cases, one about a family of refugees navigating the Canadian healthcare system, and the other about an elderly couple dealing with age-related macular degeneration, dementia, and a host of other chronic conditions.

The idea for IPE Day was born out of the South Western Academic Health Network (SWAHN), a group of healthcare educators and practitioners whose aim is to improve health outcomes for patients in southwestern Ontario through integrating research, education, and clinical practice.

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