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What if all health sciences students were educated together?

What if all health sciences students were educated together?

What if all health sciences students were educated together?

By Erna Snelgrove-Clarke and Jane Philpott

During the pandemic, we’ve seen unprecedented levels of collaboration across the health professions. Have we come to the moment we can finally start to take down the walls that divide us, as different disciplines within healthcare? Have we learned to appreciate the unique roles and contributions of each member of the health team, in a way we’ve never done before? How would the future look different if nurses, doctors, PTs, OTs, health researchers, and public health scientists worked and learned together right from the start?

Roles and impending change

Over the course of the School of Nursing’s National Nursing Week series, we have considered the many roles of nursing, non-pharmacological treatment options, nurses working with midwives and more. These are the topics of today but what about the future? It is a future where we anticipate significant shifts in the health-systems landscape, changes in the diversity of the patient population, the costs of healthcare, and major advances in technology. Collectively, these changes will have an impact on health sciences education and present a unique opportunity for students and their learning environments. As the recipients of our care live longer, this extended life expectancy will drive continued growth in the demand for health services. This, in turn, demands new approaches to healthcare delivery and health sciences education.

Collaboration

Interprofessional education is common practice in many post-secondary institutions for certain disciplines. With the knowledge that collaborative teams improve patient outcomes, perhaps it is time to bring an interprofessional practice to health professions education. Despite the many roles of nurses, there are a variety of other health professionals needed in a team-based approach to patient care. Teamwork is not without some struggles – challenges to understand one another, challenges to respect each others’ roles, and the ongoing demand for effective team leadership and support for a workplace require perpetual adaptation.

Where to start and how to end

Nursing week highlights for us the need to #AnswerTheCall. As nurses, our call is to work collaboratively to enhance health outcomes. As we strive for continued improvement, our work is not conducted in isolation. During this pandemic, we see nurses, physicians, and respiratory therapists working side by side in ICU and elsewhere with both challenges and camaraderie. What we haven’t yet achieved is the acceptance of these different disciplines offering comparable and complimentary care, side by side. Imagine an interprofessional environment where each of these different disciplines begins their journey to be a health professional in the same classroom, a place where everyone is the same. Imagine the impact this educational offering would have on a pandemic when these learners continue their collaboration outside of the classroom, in their future workplaces.

Tomorrow

While Nursing Week is a celebration of nurses, and it has been a joyous week, we are closing out our week with the promise of better health and better education for tomorrow. The promise of learning in an environment where health professions students are taught together, inclusively, and collaboratively. An environment of hope and improved health outcomes.

What if tomorrow brought all our many roles together in the spirit of health for all? What does interprofessionalism in education mean for you? Share your thoughts by commenting below.

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Shikha Gupta

Fri, 05/14/2021 - 12:33

Brilliant idea that has potential to break barriers and improve the future of healthcare in so many ways!!!

Shikha Gupta

Trisha Parsons

Fri, 05/14/2021 - 13:19

Great post, Erna!

Happy Nurses Week! As the daughter of a nurse, I witnessed first-hand the fierce compassion and competence required to answer that vocational call to caring. As a physiotherapist, I remember fondly that our profession evolved from nursing, and the evidence is there in our DNA. The idea of an academic structure that would create spaces earlier in our respective curricula to learn with and from each other sounds like a worthwhile, timely goal. Would love to participate in that discussion.

Trisha Parsons

Hi Trisha - great to get your feedback. I would love to get your participation in a process to develop the ideas that Erna and I wrote about. We'll be in touch!

Jane Philpott

A dietitian

Fri, 05/14/2021 - 13:40

Please don't forget the dietitians, even though Queen's doesn't have a faculty of nutrition/dietetics. I've worked with some amazing physicians who respected my expertise and knowledge as a dietitian, but also sadly worked with some who thought they knew more about nutrition, despite having far few hours of training and practical experience in nutrition. Dietitians need to be valued for their knowledge of evidence-based, science-based nutrition information. Physicians should refer patients to dietitians whenever a patient has a nutrition-related issue, which includes the majority of chronic diseases.

A dietitian

Thanks for the message - we won't forget the dietitians! There are so many disciplines on the health team - every role is important - and we can all learn from one another.

Jane Philpott

Mary Smith

Fri, 05/14/2021 - 14:09

Excellent article and as a NP interprofessionalism in education and health care would be fully welcomed!

Mary Smith

Rick Rowland

Fri, 05/14/2021 - 14:17

In the 1970's I worked with two British-trained nurse-midwives to deliver many babies in a small northern Ontario town. This was before midwives were licensed in Ontario, so they were hospital Obstetrical duty nurses, but the combination of GP and nurse/midwife worked like a charm. In those days, GP's did the Caesarean's, too, if needed. Since then, I am no longer doing Obstetrics, but there seem to be turf battles that separate the disciplines, and the patients are the worse for it. Care is better if it is cooperative.
I strongly endorse this blog's proposal. Doctors and nurses speak different dialects of the same language, see different sides of the same patients, and, with the majority of care delivered outside of institutions, need to communicate outside of institutions. (I still will see patients, not clients. Different dialect, I know.)

Rick Rowland

Hi Rick - thanks for this great feedback. I'm glad to hear that you agree with the idea of how we need to work and learn together. As you said: "Care is better if it is cooperative."

Jane Philpott

Mani Bhatti - MN / PHCNP Student

Fri, 05/14/2021 - 15:08

With the formation of HPRAC and a decade long evolution of scope of practice in many health disciplines in Ontario, its clear that the government is demanding the optimization and collaboration across disciplines. Although core courses in programs maybe difficult to streamline, perhaps starting with certain mandatory individual classes or course objectives that can be offered across schools. I'm thinking of intersecting objectives such as: inter-professional care, indigenous topics, trauma-informed care, etc.

Mani Bhatti - MN / PHCNP Student

Jennifer Waite, RN, MNSc Student

Fri, 05/14/2021 - 17:33

We, as nursing students and practicing nurses, are never alone in providing patient care in the clinical setting. We depend on our teammates from other healthcare professions, in order to deliver optimal patient-centered outcomes. Having an understanding of the barriers and enablers to providing quality care from the perspective of all team members can foster a unique interprofessional bond, which can begin in education. By students in different disciplines learning together in the same classroom, an appreciation of the distinct and shared needs may foster a sense of common humanity that can lead to a closer connection and feeling of compassion for each other as interprofessional teammates.

Jennifer Waite, RN, MNSc Student

Hi Jennifer. Thanks for this very thoughtful commentary. I'm glad to hear about your sense of the benefits of different disciplines learning together. All the best in your studies!

Jane Philpott

Anonymous student

Sun, 05/16/2021 - 18:55

As an undergraduate student planning to go into medicine, interprofessional collaboration is something that I am looking forward to when entering professional school. I am grateful to have taken a course about interprofessional collaboration during my undergraduate degree and though I do not know if the curriculum for professional school permits it yet, I think it is crucial to have tangible practice/experience that mimics the collaborating environment health professionals work in to improve patient outcomes.

Anonymous student

Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate the suggestions about the benefits of practical learning experiences that mimic the kind of collaboration that is essential in the workplace.

Jane Philpott

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