April 3 marked the second annual Interprofessional Education (IPE) Day, an event which saw over 400 students from 5 healthcare professions team up in London for a day of collaborative learning. With more than 35 facilitators representing a variety of healthcare professions, the goal of the day was to help first year students in dentistry, optometry, medicine, pharmacy, and social work understand the importance of interprofessional collaboration in improving patient care.
“In order to work as team, healthcare providers must understand the scope and nature of each other’s roles,” explains Elaine Lillie, the School of Pharmacy’s Director of Curriculum Development and Interprofessional Education. “Effective communication is essential for patients to receive the best care possible.”
With the goal of improving patient care in mind, the day opened with a panel featuring Dr. Allison Meiwald. Dr. Meiwald is an emergency room physician who is also a former nurse, but at IPE day she spoke about her role as a mother and patient. She shared the story of her daughter Anna who was born prematurely and lived for some time with a feeding tube. Anna is a healthy and happy girl today, but her first several years of life were challenging for her and her family. They relied on a large team of healthcare professionals, and throughout, Dr. Meiwald reminded students about the importance of listening to the patient’s story.
Dr. Meiwald’s presentation was followed by group activities. More than 400 students broke into 40 groups to discuss stereotypes surrounding their chosen professions. Under the guidance of facilitators, the groups then explored a patient case, discussing how their particular profession would contribute to care. Throughout, students identified places where collaboration amongst different parts of the healthcare team would lead to better outcomes for the patients.
IPE Day was developed in partnership with the SouthWestern Academic Health Network (SWAHN), a network of healthcare educators and practitioners that aim to improve health outcomes for patients in Southwestern Ontario through integrating research, education, and clinical practice. The event was hosted at Western University and supported by the University of Waterloo’s schools of Pharmacy and Optometry, Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, King’s University College’s School of Social Work and Renison College’s School of Social Work.