Interdisciplinary cooperation and collaboration are no mere buzz words for nursing and medical students at Loyola University Chicago. They’re part of the educational process for nurses and physicans alike, a part that Loyola is moving to strengthen with a new Center for Collaborative Learning, scheduled to open this fall, and with a joint curriculum being developed by the university’s new Interprofessional Leadership Committee.
The committee co-chair, Fran R. Vlasses, RN, PhD, NEA-BC, said interprofessonal collaboration is part of the university-wide strategic vision. That gives the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Stritch School of Medicine the opportunity to bring a collaborative model to healthcare.
“What we have is this very inviting philosophy where people are looking for the opportunity to work together,” Vlasses said, noting Loyola already uses an interdisciplinary, cooperative approach in its community health fairs, at its school-based health clinic at Proviso East High School in Maywood, Ill., and in the food, nutrition and health systems management programs.
Her co-chair, Aaron Michelfelder, MD, FAAFP, FAAMA, said an older model in which nurses, residents and consulting physicians hold back their opinions and defer to the attending physician can lead to mistakes. “The safest and most efficient way to care for patients is to have a team model,” he said in a news release.
Vlasses added, “What we’re trying to do here is change that model by starting in the beginning and showing students through the educational process not just that they can work together, but that the faculty models this behavior. Because that’s the way we’re going to create change.” Loyola encourages a team-building approach with a workshop attended by nearly 300 students. It includes lectures, guest speakers and small-group discussions. A nurse and a physician are assigned to each small group as facilitators, while medical and nursing students work on cases together.
“They’re the kinds of cases that have ethical issues, so you want to discuss them,” Vlasses said. “They would talk about how to handle the patient together, and they get to see how the two groups approach the patient differently but in a complementary fashion.”
When the center opens, there will be new opportunity for interdisciplinary learning.
“An education strategy that everyone is looking at is simulation,” Vlasses said. “When the new building opens in the fall, we will have a six-bed virtual hospital there. In a simulation setting, we will have various professional students come together to take care of simulated patients.”
At the same time, the committee is weighing opportunities to bring medical and nursing students together in the classroom.
“We’re going through the curriculum to see the kinds of courses we can offer together. Physical assessment doesn’t change whether you’re a nurse or a physician, so we’re in discussion now to see how can we offer those kinds of courses together.”
John Grochowski is a member of the Nurse.com Nursing Spectrum editorial team.