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Interprofessional collaboration benefits both UW-Madison students and patients

February 07, 2017
Students with UW-Madison's occupational therapy and nursing programs are gaining valuable experience working together in interprofessional learning sessions led by the School of Education's Debbie Bebeau, the School of Nursing's Paula Jarzemksy and other faculty members.

A report on this topic, headlined "Teaching Teamwork," appears in the Fall/Winter 2016 edition of the School of Nursing's alumni magazine (See pages 4-6). The article is written by Jennifer Garrett.

Debbie Bebeau
Bebeau is a clinical assistant professor with the Department of Kinesiology's Occupational Therapy Program.

The report explains that one example of an interprofessional educational simulation was designed by Bebeau, and the School of Nursing faculty members Paula Woywood, Kari Hirvela and Barbara J. King. In the simulation designed to assist students during home health visits, both nursing students and OT students took turns asking the patient questions. The different students approached the patient in different ways, and both sides learned a different perspective from which to think about their work.

Simulations like this one exemplify the benefits of collaboration across different healthcare fields and teams.

Jarzemsky and Bebeau also organize a fall-prevention workshop every year that includes nursing, OT, physical therapy and pharmacy students to provide free screenings for older adults. Each field plays a different role in the workshop; nursing students will conduct vision tests and take blood pressures, OT students conduct home safety assessments, PT students evaluate the adults' mobility and pharmacy students look for any possible drug interactions. 

Interprofessional collaboration, the report adds, is not only good for students, but good for the patients as well. By the end of the workshop, fall-risk scores were generated from the results. Students had also created individualized action plans to great success; 77 percent of participants had implemented their plans as opposed to a typical 25 percent.

Jarzemsky believes the interprofessional nature of the workshop plays a huge role in how successful the workshop ended up being. Students learn from other students, are exposed to different perspectives and the patients end up getting fuller, more comprehensive treatment.
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