Last year when I volunteered at the Catholic Charities Wellness and Resource Fair, I met a lot of friendly UIW students from the other professional schools, but a pharmacy professor, Dr. Cynthia Nguyen, taught me something that has stuck with me ever since. Dr. Nguyen told me about Interprofessional Education and how it can change the face of healthcare for the better. The World Health Organization describes Interprofessional Education (IPE) as when students from two or more professions learn about, from and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes. Efficient team work implies shared decision making and responsibilities, consensus on the ethical principles, constructive conflict management, and reflection of the role of each member within the team (Narayanan). Only recently have I learned that the UIW Rosenberg School of Optometry is one of only a handful of optometry programs that integrate IPE into the academic and clinical experience.
In addition to optometry, UIW has multiple health professional programs such as pharmacy, physical therapy (PT), and nursing. Each program has a solid curriculum, however the programs rarely interact. This is definitely changing. Dr. Cynthia Nguyen joined the Feik School of Pharmacy as the Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice (IPECP) Coordinator and Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice. She is currently working with other health disciplines at the University of the Incarnate Word to enhance an Interprofessional Education model and clinical site that allows students an opportunity to be a part of a patient-centered, multidisciplinary healthcare team.
I too, believe that integrated professional education can lead to better integrated care and ultimately a better patient experience. So I volunteered to join the IPE group in the fall of 2014 and that has been one of my best experiences at UIW! The IPE group of 60 or so students would meet weekly on Wednesday at the Bowden Eye and Vision Care Clinic. Every IPE morning, the faculty would place 4-5 students from Pharmacy, Optometry, Physical Therapy, and Nursing into a team. Among our team, we would have a team meeting on communication and the plan for our upcoming patients. In addition to meeting with our IPE teams, the faculty would prepare lectures. The topics of the lectures and meetings were about how IPE works in caring for chronic illnesses, such as diabetes. Currently, type 2 diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States, affecting 29.1 million people (9.3% of the population). The prevalence of diabetes is expected to continue to rise in American adults, dubbing it as the pandemic of the 21st century. Because diabetes is a chronic condition, having a team of providers as opposed to one provider can greatly improve health outcomes and compliance.
We were assigned one patient per team. Each team traveled together so I was able to see what the other professionals did in an exam. What was once a big mystery is now clear to me. Everyone was awed by my eye exam because they did not know why the optometrist do what they did. Throughout the morning we explained to the patient and each other the importance of our procedures in monitoring diabetes. It was such a great learning experience. I especially like to listen to how the other professional students spoke with the patient, the questions that they ask, and the language that was used; I reflected on how I could reword my questions during case histories for a better patient experience.
The IPE program is generating much interest at UIW. Students from the different health professional schools are currently working on a constitution to form an interprofessional student group with a mission to optimize health care. Calvin Sanchez, a second year pharmacy student at UIW, invited two nursing students Nicole Ghitea and Alissa Davenport, and myself to the first interprofessional executive board meeting. Since then Danielle Kimbrough, a Physical Therapy student, has joined and we have communicated via email and met on Google hangouts to talk about the plans for this student group. This is all very exciting and I’m glad that I had the opportunity at UIW to meet such amazing people! One of our plans was to meet at a restaurant for a meet and greet! Over 20 students and faculty came out to the mixer in the seafood resturant, Ceviche 210. I enjoyed a delicious fish taco and enjoyed a pleasant afternoon with my new UIW friends!
Narayanan, Srihari, Timothy Wingert, and Patricia Sanchez-Diaz. “Interprofessional Education Challenges With Implementation In An Optometric Curriculum.” Interprofessional Education Challenges With Implementation In An Optometric Curriculum. American Academy of Optometry, 2012. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.