Professional Poster

Advancing Physician Assistant Student Knowledge of Collaborative Practice Through Case-Based Interprofessional Panel Discussions

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Background: Physician Assistant (PA) students must be prepared for interprofessional collaborative practice and PA education programs must be provided in a manner that promotes interprofessional education and practice in agreement with current accreditation standards. Panel discussions are interactive educational experiences that involve two or more experts in a content area who engage in discussion with one another and members of the audience. Our PA program piloted interprofessional panel discussions in the didactic phase of training that included a variety of health professionals discussing clinical case models as an alternative to traditional uni-directional, mono-professional lectures.
Methods: Interprofessional panels were convened 3-4 times during the year-long clinical medicine course for first-year PA students. Each virtual panel was comprised of 4-5 providers from different professions, was moderated by a PA educator, and was 50 minutes in duration. Case-based topics included health conditions in the disciplines of orthopedics, rheumatology, endocrinology, and geriatrics. Panel members included advanced practice nurses, dieticians, medical assistants, registered nurses, PAs, pharmacists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, and physicians. Learning objectives were for students to: (1) describe an interprofessional approach to the evaluation and management of a patient with specific health conditions, (2) discuss the roles and responsibilities of healthcare professionals who may be involved in the care of the patients with specific health conditions, and (3) identify effective methods for team communication and collaboration. Student perceptions of learning outcomes were assessed with an optional electronic survey immediately following each panel presentation. Analysis of survey responses were conducted using descriptive statistics. Analysis of written responses were conducted with qualitative analysis to identify themes.
Results: Interprofessional panels were implemented for first-year PA students in 2020-2021 (89 students). The total response rate for combined surveys was 48%. A majority of students expressed agreement the panel discussions: increased their knowledge to evaluate and manage the illnesses/conditions in the clinical cases (98%), increased their knowledge of the roles and responsibilities of other healthcare professionals (97%), increased their knowledge of healthcare team communication and collaboration skills (97%), and increased their value of the importance of team-based care (98%).
Conclusion: Interprofessional panel discussions were an effective didactic educational experience to advance first-year PA students’ medical knowledge, understanding of collaborative practice, and value of team-based care.
Reflections: This model of interprofessional panel discussions can be implemented with and across health professional training programs to advance Interprofessional education and practice.