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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Health care students work together

First year students from the colleges of Nursing, Pharmacy and Medicine came together yesterday for two hours in a few University Medical Center classrooms for a workshop designed to teach interdisciplinary communication.

Preventable medical errors kill 44,000-98,000 patients each year, College of Medicine professors told students. Many of these errors cite “”poor communication”” as the reason.

Students from these colleges, as well as the colleges of Public Health and Law, participate in a series of different inter-professional workshops throughout their years in school. 

The workshops are meant to promote successful interaction and understanding between the different professions because they will all be working together after graduation, said Andreas Theodorou, a clinical pediatrics professor.

He said medical schools all over the country are putting together inter-professional curriculums to better help patients. This is the fourth year the health profession colleges at the UA have done the workshops, said Nancy Coleman, an associate specialist in pediatric critical care.

For yesterday’s workshop, students were broken up into small groups to watch videos of medical professionals from different fields discussing patients and treatments. They then talked about what worked well and what needed improvement in their communication skills. 

Each group had two nursing, medical, and pharmacy students.

“”I think when you watch it you see what everyone can contribute,”” said Mohammad Fazel, a pharmacy student.

Nursing professor Melissa Goldsmith said students were required to attend the sessions and she hopes it will really help them learn that they need to be able to communicate and voice their concerns.

Theodorou said each of the colleges has to make the workshops mandatory in order to make the system work. They learned in the first year of the program that if only one college makes an activity mandatory, there would not be a varied enough turnout for the students to really meet those from the other colleges.

“”We keep improving every year,”” he said. “”You don’t even have to be in healthcare to get something out of these types of workshops.””

Theodorou said College of Medicine officials have gotten feedback from students for the last couple years and most of the students say they want more workshops. One program many students suggest is a “”walk in their shoes”” exercise were medical students can spend a day with a nursing or pharmacy student to see what they do and visa versa. He said they are currently working on putting something like this into action.

Leslie Zuniga, a medical student, said the workshop was good for meeting different people and learning what the other is going through.

Theodorou said the goal of bringing these students together for a team communication workshop is to get rid of the stereotype of, “”I’m the doctor, I’m in charge, just do what I say,”” and to make each of them realize that everyone’s input and knowledge is important.

Newsha Sarmadnia, a pharmacy student, said she thinks requiring students to learn to work together and communicate will ultimately help the patients because they learned that patient care is the most important thing.

More hands-on workshops bring students together throughout the year as well, such as a CPR practice workshop where each student gets to be a team leader on a coding simulator patient. Theodorou said this is usually the students’ favorite.

Another workshop that all the students participate in, including the public health and law students, is one on how to handle flu pandemics. Theodorou said last year they held the workshop three months before the swine flu pandemic broke out, so students were already more prepared.

Another strategy that is being looked into is combining semester long classes, Clampet said. If nursing students are required to take a basic pharmacy class, they might be taking it with first year pharmacy students in the future.

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