Educational activities at Baylor focus on interprofessional communication

The interaction between different healthcare professionals is a critical part of successful patient care, and establishing and improving this interprofessional communication has been the focus of two recent educational activities at Baylor.

Both activities were part of a National Institutes of Health five-year grant to Baylor titled Relationship-Centered Transformation of Curricula. Dr. Elizabeth Nelson, associate professor of medicine, is the principal investigator of the grant.

Interprofessional Crisis Management

The Interprofessional Crisis Management Activity was held Aug. 21. Ten Baylor medical students participated in this innovative, collaborative activity highlighting crisis management skills in a disaster setting. The students triaged and managed more than 30 standardized patients and volunteers. These mock patients were moulaged to reflect a disaster situation with injuries and the potential release of infectious pathogens at the National School of Tropical Medicine. The training was led by Dr. Tyson Pillow, assistant professor of medicine – emergency medicine and director of the Simulation and Standardized Patient Program.

The student participants were tasked with running an “urgent care” area as part of the disaster response. They worked alongside eight emergency medicine technicians from Rice University and one paramedic from Montgomery County EMS, who also were trained as part of the activity.

The students performed very well, providing excellent care for all of their patients, even in the face of a potential exposure risk to themselves embedded in the scenario, Pillow said.

“Since this was part of a grant focusing on interprofessional education activities for medical students, the focus of the activity was not primarily on disaster medicine and training. Instead, it focused on areas of key importance that are not typically addressed in standard training, including interacting with local agencies, identifying critical communication needs, distinguishing elements in emergencies that impact population health, assessing and adjusting leadership roles and recognizing and managing emotions in a crisis situation,” Pillow said.

The initial feedback from those involved, including participants, volunteers and standardized patients, was uniformly positive, he added, and the goal is to include this activity as a regular offering in the medical student curriculum.

The Interprofessional Crisis Management planning committee included Dr. Cayla Teal, Dr. Anne Gill, Dr. Sarah Bezek, Butch Roberson, Hashim Zaidi, Lisa Basgall and Linda Stelljes.

Second-Year Patient Safety Course

A collaborative, interprofessional approach was also the focus of the BCM Second-Year Patient Safety Course held Sept. 23 in Cullen Auditorium. In addition to the 185 second-year Baylor medical students, the event included 75 nursing students from Texas Women’s University and 43 pharmacy students from the University of Houston College of Pharmacy, along with faculty from all three institutions.

“Professional education is front and center in our curriculum here, with the idea that as health care professionals, we have to be able to work in teams and to collaborate to benefit the patient by improving outcomes and patient safety,” said Dr. Anne Gill, associate professor of pediatrics and medical ethics and director of longitudinal programs at Baylor. “We’re very excited about the cooperation and collaboration with our educational colleagues in nursing and pharmacy.”

The participating students were presented with a case study, and then broke into small discussion groups that included students from all three schools as well as a faculty leader. The case involved a 70-year-old man who came to the emergency room after a fall but was eventually diagnosed with a subdural hematoma, or bleeding in the brain, after collaboration by the emergency room physician, nurse and pharmacist.

The case was broken into four parts, with group discussion after each one. Specific objectives included:

  • Organize and communicate information with patients, families and healthcare team members in a form that is understandable, avoiding discipline-specific terminology when possible.
  • Listen actively, and encourage ideas and opinions of other team members
  • Recognize how one’s own uniqueness, including experience level, expertise, culture, power and hierarchy within the healthcare team, contributes to effective communication, conflict resolution and positive interprofessional working relationships.
  • Communicate consistently the importance of teamwork in patient-centered and community-focused care.

The course was piloted last year and expanded based on that success, Gill said.

“While we still need to analyze student evaluations of the course, I think it was a very positive experience for everyone involved,” she said. “It’s unique to have a gathering of students and faculty from different disciplines in the classroom setting rather than the clinical setting,” she added.