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ACOM and WCC Students Participate in Interprofessional Session


Dothan, Ala. – Teams of future doctors and healthcare professionals were tested recently on the Wallace Community College campus by building a structure with six pieces of spaghetti, a yard of masking tape and string, and a marshmallow. What does this have to do with medical training? Plenty, because working as a team to reach an optimal result is critical to healing patients and saving lives.  

The exercise was part of an Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC) session held at Wallace Community College. First year ACOM Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO), WCC Associate Degree Nursing, Practical Nursing, and Respiratory Therapist students were placed in Interprofessional groups to enforce collaboration. The session was designed to acquaint healthcare students with collaborative teamwork and problem solving. Approximately 340 students attended. 

To reinforce how important communication is to a healthcare team, students were asked to participate in the old ‘telephone’ game. But instead of ‘secrets,’ the first student read the description of a patient’s symptoms and condition. By the time the detailed summary was whispered to the person at the other end of the row, the important, life-saving facts were lost. In fact, one team distilled the message to “Some sort of medicine for something that they didn’t know.” Luckily, the patient wasn’t real, but the lack of communication was. The exercise reinforced to the future professionals the need for teamwork and a chain of communication. 

After participating in communication and team building exercises, the students were challenged with a case study analysis in which team members were assigned non-traditional roles. The exercise was based on an actual transplant operation that went terribly wrong due to a blood type error. The case resulted in changes in rules for organ transplants. 

And teamwork training is becoming an important component of program accreditation. “Interprofessional education initiatives (IPE) are required by our accreditation criteria,” said Dr. Joy Whitlow, WCC associate degree nursing instructor. “The Associate Degree Nursing program has undergone accreditation that included IPE for the first time.” The program was granted continuing accreditation by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) this past summer. “Events with ACOM were referenced as evidence of meeting the criteria. Now, ACOM and WCC’s Respiratory Therapist, Physical Therapist Assistant, and Practical Nursing programs can do the same,” said Dr. Whitlow. “All of the accrediting bodies have included IPE in their current criteria.”

In further collaboration, WCC and ACOM faculty have participated in CEU workshops for the last two years, hosted at both campuses. 

For more information on the Interprofessional Education Collaborative, go to www.ipecollaborative.org.

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