Piloting a Team-Based Case Study in Aging, Mental Health, and Social Determinates of Health to Enhance Health Professions Students’ Competency in Interprofessional Teamwork
Background: Interprofessional education (IPE) addresses the idea that health professionals must effectively collaborate in an interprofessional team to provide optimal patient-centered care. Research supports that IPE has substantial benefits for health professions students including improved knowledge, skills, and attitudes toward interprofessional practice. Evidence also supports that IPE improves patient care outcomes. An effective way to implement IPE is through exercises that address its core competencies (values and ethics, roles and responsibilities, interprofessional communication, and teams and teamwork) using a structured team training experience. In this structured format, students can address key aspects of patient care including unique challenges faced across a patient’s lifespan. The project goal was to develop and pilot a new team-based facilitated case study that addressed issues of aging, mental health, and social determinants of health.
Design: 45 students from nine health professions (Social Work, Nursing, Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Optometry, and Nutrition) were grouped into interprofessional teams of 10-15 and collaborated on a 1.5-hour case study with a trained facilitator in a virtual setting. After a brief introduction to interprofessional teamwork, students watched a standardized patient interview related to the patient case and then worked together to prioritize goals and develop a care plan that reflected both patient-centered goals and each students’ role in healthcare. Interprofessional discussion was encouraged as students confronted the case’s challenges of aging, mental health, and social disadvantage. Following the case, students reflected on the experience including role similarities/differences, cross-profession interaction, and takeaways. Students also completed a pre- and post-survey using the Interprofessional Collaborative Competencies Attainment Survey (ICCAS) tool, a validated instrument to evaluate effectiveness of interprofessional experiences using self-reported interprofessional competency.
Results: The new case was piloted in Spring 2022. Of the 45 participants, 39 fully completed the pre- and post- surveys and their results were included for discussion. Results from the ICCAS surveys showed improvement across all 20 survey items, and 97% of students indicated that the learning experience was valuable.
Conclusion and Reflection: This pilot study demonstrated the potential for this case-based experience to improve students' confidence in their own interprofessional competency. Many students vocalized their appreciation in working with other professions and hearing each other's unique perspectives on managing the same topics of aging, mental health, and social determinates of health. A future goal is to expand the diversity of patient cases to further address key challenges faced across the lifespan.