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ACOM, TROY and WCCD Students Participate in Interprofessional Session


Dothan, Ala. – Teams of future doctors and healthcare professionals were tested recently on the Wallace Community College-Dothan 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), WCCD Health Sciences, and Troy-Dothan and Troy Nursing students were placed in Interprofessional groups to enforce collaboration. The session was designed to acquaint healthcare students with collaborative teamwork and problem solving. Over 300 students attended. Wallace’s contingent included nursing, medical assisting, physical therapist assistant, and respiratory therapist students.


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. The patients were not 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.


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 WCCD nursing program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Interprofessional training has been shown to reduce clinical errors, lower healthcare costs, reduce nursing turnover rate, and save patients’ lives.


The Interprofessional collaboration event can be used as evidence of meeting the IPE component for accreditation for the programs participated.


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

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