Workshop lets health professions students practice respectful teamwork

Feb 15, 2019

A Heritage College medical student takes part in an interactive exercise during the workshop.

Late last month, the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine hosted a full-day workshop aimed at helping health professions students learn how to better care for patients in ways that are mutually respectful, unrestricted by stereotypes and genuinely curious.

Through intensely interactive, team-based activities on all three Heritage College campuses, the workshop gave health professions students a chance to practice the same kind of approach with members of an interprofessional health care team. The theme for the event, which was largely funded from the Osteopathic Heritage Foundation's Vision 2020 grant, was “Caring for the Underserved in an Interprofessional and Interpersonal Way.”

“Good interprofessional teams, in any setting, are founded on mutually respectful and personal relationships,” said Randall Longenecker, M.D., assistant dean for rural and underserved programs and professor of family medicine. “Working in underserved settings, where ‘playing time is plenty, but the bench is shallow,’ it’s especially important to work with the team you have, making maximal use of each other’s strengths and practicing with each other the basic assumption that everyone on the team wants what’s best for the patient, their family and the community.”

The Office of Rural and Underserved Programs sponsored the event, which was run by facilitators from the National Center for Interprofessional Practice & Education, based at the University of Minnesota.

More than 450 health professions students from four fields and six institutions throughout Ohio took part in the interprofessional event, including second-year medical students from the Heritage College and students from the following programs:

  • Case Western Reserve University Physician Assistant Program
  • Cleveland State University School of Nursing
  • University of Findlay College of Pharmacy
  • The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy
  • Ohio University School of Nursing
  • Ohio University Physician Assistant Practice Program
  • Ursuline College Breen School of Nursing

Working in deliberately structured interprofessional teams, participants took part in guided discussions, responding to videotaped scenarios and probing issues such as how to avoid unconscious assumptions about members of other health professions and about working with underserved populations.

Noting that the event took place at five sites on three campuses, Longenecker called organizing and handling it “an incredible feat,” and praised Dawn Mollica, ORUP administrative director, for her efforts. “Thanks to the National Center for Interprofessional Education in Minnesota for their partnership and excellent input,” he added, “and thanks to the students for their enthusiastic participation.”

Ryan Vagedes, OMS II at the Heritage College, Athens, called the event a good exercise in breaking barriers. “Medical education can seem isolated into silos, with each of the professions trained separately,” he said. “This event was a good start at helping us to break down these walls we have constructed and learn from each other. I look forward to integrating more interprofessional experiences in our training to foster greater connections among the health professions.”