Interprofessional education focuses on communication

It takes doctors and other healthcare providers working as a team to properly treat patients, making communication an important aspect of healthcare and an important lesson in healthcare education. Recently, Baylor College of Medicine students took part in an interprofessional education exercise to help bring focus to this vital issue.

The Baylor Second-Year Patient Safety Interprofessional offering was held on Sept. 22. More than 180 Baylor medical students attended, along with 62 pharmacy students from the University of Houston College of Pharmacy and 84 nursing students from Texas Women’s University.

“The goal of this course is to help our students understand others’ roles in healthcare and facilitate communication between the different professionals. We hope this ultimately leads to improved patient outcomes when the students begin practicing medicine,” said Dr. Anne Gill, associate professor of pediatrics and medical ethics at Baylor.

Faculty members from all three institutions facilitated small-group discussions between students on presented case studies.

“As educators, we are responsible for preparing tomorrow’s healthcare providers for true collaborative practice,” said Dr. Robert McLaughlin, dean of the School of Allied Health Sciences at Baylor. “The most common reason for healthcare failures is inadequate communication, which is entirely preventable. Exercises like this show students that safe practice requires clear expression and true listening among all members of the healthcare team.”

The goal of the small group discussions was to help the students accomplish the following objectives:

  • Communicate the importance of teamwork in patient-centered care
  • Listen and encourage ideas and opinions from team members
  • Recognize how one’s uniqueness contributes to effective communication, conflict resolution and positive interprofessional relationships
  • Communicate and organize information with patients, families and colleagues in a way that is understandable

The organizers put together a great case vignette that allowed students to see how safe practice emerges from understanding and respecting the contributions of each other member, McLaughlin said.