Council on Medical Student Education in Pediatrics


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COMSEP Meeting in Ottawa, ON

Poster Presentation:

An Interprofessional Education Program Featuring Simulated Patient Encounters for Medical, Nursing, and Pharmacy Students

Brianna Meier,University of North Carolina School of Medicine,Chapel Hill,NC,Sue Tolleson-Rinehart,University of North Carolina School of Medicine,Chapel Hill,NC,Kenya McNeal-Trice,University of North Carolina School of Medicine,Chapel Hill,NC

Background: In 1999, the Institute of Medicine drafted a landmark report titled To Err is Human: Building a Safer Health System.  The value of training providers to work effectively in teams as a strategy for increasing safety was a major theme in this report and in all the action that followed its publication. The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) now requires that “the faculty of a medical school ensure that the core curriculum of the medical education program prepares medical students to function collaboratively on health care teams that include health professionals from other disciplines as they provide coordinated services to patients.”

Objective/Research Question: Can an Interprofessional Education (IPE) intervention for medical, nursing, and pharmacy students alter student attitudes, knowledge, skills, team performance, and/or team outcomes in a direction conducive to improving teamwork?

Methods: An IPE simulation was implemented at the University of North Carolina (UNC).  Participants included senior medical students enrolled in the transition courses for Pediatrics and Obstetrics and Gynecology, nursing students in the BSN program, and senior pharmacy students.  Students participated in an Interprofessional Birthing Simulation exercise involving two case scenarios.  Students completed pre- and post-simulation self-assessments in addition to interprofessional peer assessments.  The survey data was analyzed to evaluate the change in student attitudes toward their colleagues in other disciplines, students’ knowledge of teamwork in the clinical setting, students’ skills in teamwork activities, understanding of the teamwork process and the shared mental model, and team outcomes and performance following an IPE intervention by testing change over two simulated patient encounters.

Results: Survey data analysis revealed statistically significant changes in attitudes about other health care professionals in medical, nursing, and pharmacy students among almost all of the attitude variables assessed. The data regarding the knowledge of students about teamwork and how to run through a clinical scenario with respect to seven teamwork multiple choice questions was not conclusive. Survey data from observers of students’ teamwork process skills, understanding of a shared mental model, and teamwork outcomes and performance show significant inter-encounter change in a few key areas after students had been exposed to IPE (p=0.0009 to 0.021). 

Discussion: This study’s demonstration of statistically significant change in student attitudes following an IPE intervention suggest that this program may be a model for IPE to fulfill the goals of improved patient safety through improved teamwork.  This study is encouraging for promoting teamwork improvement through IPE early in the training of health care professionals. Going forward, studies of program interventions should be more robust, including long-term evaluative studies to assess actual patient safety outcomes resulting from student training in IPE.