Interprofessional Education Gives Better Results

Interprofessional Learners during debriefI recently had an opportunity to have a discussion with a group of learners about interprofessional and interdisciplinary environments in education.

In real situations, it takes a variety of professions, disciplines, and roles to serve persons with the greatest care and love. When you bring that variety into learning situations, it creates a more realistic experience – and the participants are able to learn from each other.

Interprofessional refers to a variety of professions: Physicians, nurses, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, and many other care givers from various professions all work together every day, combining their skill sets to care for patients.

Interdisciplinary is demonstrated by each profession being spread amongst different departments or disciplines, such as outpatient, inpatient, intensive care units, etc.

Each profession and discipline tends to have its own skill set based on what they do daily. For example, physicians do not always know how to push a drug, while nurses do not always have the experience to lead during a code.

In some courses that involve groups of interprofessional learners, facilitators require that each participant assume each type of role in the simulation scenario.

Learning For Different Roles

The learners I spoke with understood that this is a safe learning environment, so they enjoyed being challenged to do tasks they aren’t normally comfortable with.

They wanted to learn how to perform in each role, in case they find themselves in that position in the future. Furthermore, they found it comforting to know others around them have had some practice and training in different roles.

One of the learners in the group, a pharmacist, mentioned that she was nervous at first about performing in a role she normally wouldn’t be in.

She is not normally at the bedside, and when she is, it’s usually just to counsel the patient. She didn’t know how to do what she described as “simple stuff” – like how to put down a bed – because she has never had to do it before.

However, the team she worked with made her feel comfortable because they understood this experience. When she had questions there was always someone there to guide her. “You can always find help,” one of the learners said. ‘There’s always someone there that can teach you.”

Tips For Facilitators Setting the Stage

Interprofessional Facilitators with LearnersThe group of learners admitted that going into a simulation can be very intimidating. People don’t like feeling that they’re being watched or judged.

While you, as a facilitator, can’t do much about the being watched part, you can help them feel comfortable in low stakes simulations by ensuring them that you’re there to help support them, not judge them.

If they’re learning something new, or being refreshed on something that they haven’t done in a while, learners will feel some uncertainty with their actions.

The learners are already nervous, and if the learning environment is not properly framed the learners may not feel comfortable and may “shut down”. Instructors have to remember that they’re working with people who don’t practice simulation every day.

An Educator needs to set the stage by telling learners it’s ok to make mistakes and it’s ok to ask for help. The learners will be nervous about making mistakes, but when they feel supported they will learn and retain the information much better.

If they don’t feel supported, or if the facilitator is not calm and collected, it will put them on edge even more and can “taint the experience and freak you out every single time [you’re in that situation],” as one learner put it.

It’s helpful for learners to hear that others make mistakes – it makes them feel like they’re not alone. An example that a learner gave was that sometimes during a code you start breathing fast and begin pumping air at the rate you’re breathing, when you should be going a bit slower. It makes them feel better to hear from others, especially from an instructor, that it’s ok, ‘I do that too.’

Finally, learners find it helpful to have a facilitator who understands their scope of practice. If there is an interprofessional mix of learners, there should be a similar mix of educators.

It’s important for us to take feedback such as this, and implement it as part of our process to improve health care education. That’s why this discussion with the learners is helpful to Jump in making a better, more comfortable learning experience for them.

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