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Multiple students watching 2 students and an instructor perform CPR on a patient simulatorThe history of simulated interprofessional team care at The Ohio State University School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (HRS) goes back at least 10 years, but it’s just in the last seven years that school faculty leaders have formalized the approach and integrated it into the curricula.

Today, interprofessional education (IPE) at HRS includes several dynamic student learning opportunities to learn and practice working as a team with students and professionals from other health care disciplines:

  • Welcome Day patient case
  • ECLIPSE (Education for Clinical Interprofessional Simulation Excellence)

These are just three of the 20 IPE experiences for HRS students, says Georgianna Sergakis, PhD, RRT, program director for both the Bachelor of Science in Respiratory Therapy and the MRT programs, and HRS IPE Committee chair.

“Many faculty have developed additional IPE experiences to innovatively provide HRS students the opportunity to engage in collaborative learning.”

The HRS Welcome Day introduces incoming students to interprofessional care and places students into faculty-led teams of 15. Students are given a case and over the course of the next four semesters, they work in their teams to review the patient medical history, the patient’s injury and recommend next steps of care.

The program’s goal: to prepare students to self-identity as a health professional and as a member of the interprofessional team.

“Welcome Day is also a wonderful way to celebrate the new students and allows them to understand that their time of growth in HRS will be one of collaboration and mutual respect as team members,” says Sergakis.

With ECLIPSE, which takes place each fall and spring, 400 students each semester are placed into interdisciplinary HRS health care teams with the goal of learning the roles and responsibilities of the other health care professions. The program is an intensive rounding simulation and students work with patients played by actors.

“Students are learning about the typical clinical scenarios that they might work together on,” says Marica Nahikian-Nelms, PhD, RDN, LD, director of Academic Affairs and clinical professor in the school.

“Beyond that, our programs have designed specific interprofessional events within many professions,” she says. For example, dietetics and respiratory therapy (RT) might have a simulation event that would have the RT students teaching the dietetic students about mechanical ventilation, she says.

“Dietetics students, in turn, are teaching the respiratory therapy students about enteral feeding (tube feeding) and how enteral feeding works with being mechanically ventilated, or how specific technology is used together to plan the nutrition care for the patient.”

The student impact is immediate, Nelms says. “It’s very empowering for the student to able to show someone about what a dietitian or respiratory therapist can contribute to the patient’s plan of care.”

BuckIPE is an interactive and experiential program that engages HRS students and the seven health sciences colleges, alongside educators, practitioners and community partners. BuckIPE was established by Ohio State’s Office of Interprofessional Practice Education, which was formed in 2020 as a joint initiative of the Ohio State Office of Academic Affairs and the Wexner Medical Center and charged to unite, codify and enable continued growth in this area.

Simulation space

HRS interprofessional experiences take place in any of the following facilities:  the new simulation lab in Atwell Hall, the College of Nursing simulation lab, the Clinical Education and Assessment Skills Center in Prior Hall, and the new Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Center (IHSC).

The HRS simulation space provides the space and capability to develop additional IPE experiences as well provides space in Atwell for competency assessment to prepare for clinical rotations, says Sergakis. “The IPE Committee is exploring innovative ways that we can leverage that space for additional collaborations which may require additional funding.”

Nelms says HRS has 20 courses taking place in the IHSC building, which makes it an exciting place for students to learn, she says. “IHSC will provide a lot more opportunities for HRS students to be with students from the other health sciences colleges, and with real-time Zoom interaction with national experts from across the country.”

Student feedback, program impact

Sergakis says data from graduating students show that the HRS IPE activities contributes to their professional development and enhances their learning overall, and that HRS’s IPE programs have gained increased interest at national meetings.

“Employers seek these teamwork, leadership and interprofessional communication skills. We hope these skills also differentiate our graduating students in the workforce,” she says.

The ECLIPSE committee, which includes representatives from the 12 participating health professions programs, has data that shows the ECLIPSE simulations not only improve the students’ understanding of a health care team’s roles and responsibilities, but also that the students better understand their own role and unique contributions to patient-centered care.  

Kelsi McConnaughy, a senior student in the RT program and a respiratory therapy technician at the Ohio State Wexner Medical Center, can attest to those findings.

“Through ECLIPSE, I learned about the numerous professions that are involved and connected with students studying physical and occupational therapy, speech-language pathology and those in preparing to become nurse practitioners,” she says.

She also enjoyed working as a team to ‘help’ a family in need by completing mini-activities in BuckIPE. “I was able to assist with the care of two patients and demonstrate my expertise as a respiratory therapist,” she says. The experiences, she says, have increased her confidence in providing care.

“This IPE program has been such an incredible experience for me,” McConnaughy says. “Because of the small team sizes, I've been able to get to know my professors and have developed great friendships with my team members and classmates. 

“I am honored to have been a part of HRS, and once I graduate, I can't wait to start making even more contributions to the field.”