The concept of Interprofessional Education (IPE) is when students from two or more health care professions learn together during part of their professional training. The goal is to develop collaborative practices, reduce medical errors, and improve the overall quality of patient-centered health care.
In this age of improved collaboration, IPE is increasingly important for health care professionals, as the ‘team delivery’ model of care becomes standard.
Earlier this year at our Boise campus, faculty from the Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program and the Practical Nursing program planned a joint skills simulation lab to introduce the concept to their students.
PTA Program Director Dr. Jonathan Bird and full time instructor Thomas Howell PT, MPT, presented the results of the exercise at the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) combined sections meeting in Indianapolis in February. Their presentation was well received by their colleagues, winning an award from APTA’s Health Policy & Administration section for demonstrating research that is globally engaged.
“IPE is still a novel approach in PTA student instruction,” Dr. Bird explained. “Everyone has a commitment to it, but not much has been done with physical therapist assistants yet. IPE will become a mainstay of health care. We have to learn to work as an interdisciplinary health care team.”
The skills lab brought together 46 students for both high fidelity and low fidelity training in the campus Simulation Lab. Four nursing instructors joined their PTA colleagues to rotate students through different scenarios, ranging from patient transfers, to bed mobility, assessing vitals, and clinical presentation.
“The goal was to have the PTA students who had just done transfer training share that knowledge with nursing students, while the nursing students – who have worked in the field – could share real world experience and train on vital sign management,” Howell explained.
Students were given pre- and post-lab surveys to assess the joint lab’s effectiveness. The results were very favorable. Student surveys showed an increase or improvement in four of the six learning domains as outlined by Bloom’s Taxonomy.
“PTA educators could try this type of experience with other disciplines,” Bird said. “We had some good conversations with our professional colleagues about ways to apply Interprofessional Education.”
Their APTA conference attendance also gave Dr. Bird and Mr. Howell the opportunity to see other original research, and bring back best practice ideas to the Boise campus. They were encouraged to publish their research and plan to do so after collecting more data in another planned joint skills lab this year.
Bird noted that 90% of PTA programs are located at state-funded colleges. “We are in a unique niche, being part of private education and doing original research. It was exciting to represent Carrington and DeVry,” Bird said.