Mark Thomas 0

IPHE Improvements

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Dear IPHE Organizers, 

       The goals of the Interprofessional Healthcare Education (IPHE) are admirable. My classmates and I believe that in order to improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare in America, it makes sense that we, as upcoming healthcare professionals, need to know more about one another’s professional roles within the system. We also believe that the common understanding of each other’s perspectives and ideas is instrumental to accomplishing our work as a team. However, we do not believe that the way the IPHE curriculum is currently set up here at UCSF is really helping us to achieve those goals. Rather than fostering understanding and interdisciplinary learning, the lack of meaningful activities in the curriculum seems to have created frustration, resentment, and lack of interest from some team members. And we still do not know much more than we did before about each other’s role within the health care system. Below, we would like to address some of these frustrations and offer a few suggestions for how to improve the curriculum. 
        The first IPHE day was fun. We got together with other first-year students from across the healthcare spectrum—our future colleagues—to foster interpersonal interactions, which we believe are absolutely essential to building familiarity with other members of the healthcare team. This initial activity helped us to broaden our perspectives on how the various disciplines function as a team, and that in turn goes a long way to building trust. We could use more of these face-to-face interactions. However, where we believe the IPHE curriculum goes awry is in the longitudinal projects. First, it was disheartening that these projects were basically given to us in a top-down fashion; were they voluntary, there would probably be a lot more enthusiasm toward completing them. But, as many of us have learned over the years, forced group work invariably leads to a lack of coordination and to wildly fluctuating levels of participation among the group. One or two group members carry the majority of the weight, and others do not do or cannot do their share. Not everyone is passionate about the same things, and therefore not everyone gets equally invested in their projects. This problem is compounded by the fact that, among the different professional schools here at UCSF, we have totally divergent schedules.
        In many of our groups, it has been impossible to find a time when all the members can get together. We send frustrated emails and do not get any closer to the stated goals of working together and learning more about each other’s fields. To quote the opinion from Wesley Yu—a member of one of our current teams, and whose note was recently published in Synapse critiquing the IPHE curriculum, we also feel like “we’re missing out on an incredible opportunity to recognize how much we will need each other’s real skills.” And we also agree with and regret the fact that editing a video or cutting and pasting a brochure brings us no closer to learning about one another’s roles within the healthcare system. Instead, it feels like busy work. 
        Many of the longitudinal project themes/partnerships are interesting and seem useful, but they require differing levels of coordination and involvement from the partner organizations and take us away from the goal of learning how to work together as a healthcare team, rather than toward it. While the projects may require us to work together, they do not call upon our strengths as future dentists, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and physical therapists and they do not teach us about working together within these roles. We are, in essence, being asked to commit time and energy out of our already overwhelmingly busy course loads to complete a project that does not seem to reflect the goal of interdisciplinary learning, and this project is tied to whether or not we pass or fail a completely different required course. Again, this is both worrisome and frustrating. 
       Now, my classmates and I have some suggestions for how this could work better: First, the IPHE class should be a completely different course. It can be required for all first-year students, but not tied to one of our pre-existing courses. This change can be implemented immediately. Second, the curriculum should clearly reflect the goals of IPHE. A series of lectures taught by professors or other experts from each of the schools represented at UCSF would be much more instructive for each of us to learn about our colleagues’ fields, and these lectures could include break-out sessions where we could look at case studies together and brainstorm on how each member of the team fits into the particular patient plans. Even better, now that UCSF has the brand-new Kanbar Center, we could use this facility to conduct interdisciplinary simulation sessions guided by faculty who could teach us how to communicate with one another and to understand what each team member could offer. This way, we could learn to model, as students, how to work together based on the knowledge of one another’s roles in order to provide the highest quality of care to our patients. What an invaluable tool this would be! I have a feeling that this would foster future partnership across the spectrum of healthcare providers, and it could also set up a positive precedent as a curriculum tool that other schools could implement. Attached please find the signatures of other UCSF Nursing students that agree with the statements and suggestions made in this letter. My classmates and I would very much like to hear your comments, questions, concerns, and how the IPHE committee might be able to implement the suggestions mentioned in this letter.


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