Integrated healthcare, integrated classrooms
Medical, nursing, pharmacy and social work students learn about the manifold benefits of interprofessional education.
Click on any photo above for larger version.
The Interprofessional Education (IPE) Program work group at LAU offered two introductory sessions in April to introduce and acquaint the students enrolled in the health and social programs with the concept of IPE and its growing relevance to their future practice.
The term “interprofessional education,” now in wide use in the field of medical education, refers to interdisciplinary learning environments involving students and faculty from multiple professions in health and social care. The goal of IPE is to facilitate integrated professional practices that improve the quality of healthcare as well as the social wellbeing of patients.
“Students can use the knowledge and skills they learn in IPE in any clinical setting and work efficiently with other health professionals. Collaboration is foundational to all health care work,” says Dr. Nancy Hoffart, founding dean of LAU’s Alice Ramez Chaghoury School of Nursing and chair of the IPE work group.
LAU’s IPE program was launched in spring 2011, and brings together students from nursing, medicine, pharmacy, nutrition, and social work programs, to take part in learning experiences in classroom, laboratory and clinical settings.
The IPE introductory sessions took place in the Selina Korban Theatre on the Byblos campus, two days apart.
The April 2 “STEP 1” session was attended by a total of 135 students. These included first-year medical, first-year professional pharmacy, first-year nursing, third-year nutrition and first-year social work students, none of whom had substantial prior clinical or field learning experiences.
“We’re new to IPE, so there’s so much to learn from this session about the integration of social workers with other healthcare professionals,” said Nadine Abdul Sater, a first-year social work student.
Faculty presentations highlighted the role of their respective professions in ensuring the success of IPE. Potential challenges to collaboration and integration — competition, lack of a common professional language and failure to solicit the input of other professionals — were also discussed.
“It’s not enough to deal only with medical causes of a patient’s condition,” said Dr. Hassan Hammoud, associate professor of social welfare in the Department of Social Sciences at LAU. “Health affects all aspects of a person’s life, and social workers are here precisely to bridge the gap between the individual and his social environment.”
The April 4 “STEP 2” session tackled more advanced IPE concepts, drawing extensively on students’ clinical experiences. The forum was attended by a total of 145 third-year medical, third- and fourth-year professional pharmacy, second-year nursing and third-year social work students.
Hoffart emphasizes not only the benefits of IPE for the wellbeing of patients and communities, but also the competitive advantage it confers on future professionals.
“When our students present their portfolios to prospective employers,” she says, “their interprofessional learning experience will link them to globally recognized standards such as those of the Joint Commission, a U.S.-based organization that accredits hospitals around the world.”