Exercise Demonstrates Interprofessionalism for Students

Students from the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine and the USD Nursing Department in Rapid City participated in a day-long exercise Nov. 14 demonstrating the value of interdisciplinary cooperation, also known as interprofessionalism. The event was held at the Rapid City University Center.

Interprofessionalism is a relatively new concept that has been adopted by many health care teaching institutions and is currently taught by the USD Sanford School of Medicine and all disciplines in the USD School of Health Sciences.

Interprofessional practice is a team-oriented and patient-centered approach to health care. The main idea behind it is that health care practitioners work together to offer a variety of skills and knowledge to better address and treat problems. Providers in many health care fields are now being trained to work together to achieve improved outcomes for patients.

“Teaching interprofessionalism is a huge priority for us,” said Dr. Matthew Simmons, dean of the Rapid City campus of the medical school. “We view it as the way of the future.”

The purpose of the exercise in Rapid City was to demonstrate to students how to achieve these improved patient outcomes. Physicians and nurses led and exhibited cooperative interaction on a simulated trauma case, in which 15 medical students and 30 nursing students participated. Those students were broken up into smaller groups that were each involved in a two-hour lesson. Throughout the course of the day, the teaching physicians and nursing staff put on seven similar lessons.

Additionally, students led a discussion about interprofessional ethics. “We let the students take the lead in the discussions portion of the lesson, and they were very engaged. The discussion was very useful,” Dr. Simmons said.

Dr. Simmons explained that there are four key areas that play important roles in the preparation of students regarding interprofessional practice: communication, roles and responsibilities, teams and teamwork, and ethics and values. “We decided to focus on ethics and values particularly in this exercise,” said Simmons.

Simmons and others involved in the teaching project felt the experience was positive and beneficial for the students. “We want our students to be ready to participate in interprofessional practice when they graduate,” Simmons explained.

According to Dr. Simmons, more interprofessional exercises and simulations are planned.

This story originally appeared in the Fall/Winter 2014 issue of South Dakotan M.D. magazine. Read the full issue.