Last fall, members of the College of Health Sciences Student Government Association (CHS SGA), motivated to benefit the community during the holiday season, kicked around the idea of getting involved with Des Moines’ Ronald McDonald House. A component of Ronald McDonald Charities of Central Iowa, it provides housing, from one night to one year, to out-of-town families whose children are being treated at area hospitals. The SGA members also wanted an activity for students in the college’s two on-campus clinical programs, physician assistant studies (PA) and doctor of physical therapy (D.P.T.).
“There is a push around the University to promote interprofessional collaboration. By putting together activities like these, we are hoping to learn more about our fellow peers and be able to continue to use these experiences when we enter the workforce as health care providers,” says Christopher Baltzell, president of the PA Class of 2016 and an SGA member.
The “push” he describes ranges from informal to full-blown. On Oct. 27, first-year students in all DMU clinical programs joined Drake University pharmacy students, Grand View University nursing students and Des Moines Area Community College health sciences students for “an afternoon of interprofessional activities” at the Prairie Meadows Events Center in nearby Altoona, IA.
On a smaller scale, the CHS SGA sponsored a service activity on Dec. 3 during which more than 20 PA and D.P.T. students assembled fleece blankets for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House. They took over the study tables outside the physical therapy classrooms on the second floor of the Academic Center, snipping, trimming and tying the fleece that Amira Seemann, PA Class of 2016 vice president, had purchased with CHS SGA community service funds. They assembled 10 blankets as they advanced their interprofessional goal.
“By understanding each other and our professions, we will be better able to direct our future patients to the most appropriate provider for their health care needs,” Baltzell says. “My hope is to continue to create events and service projects that will promote continued collaboration among all of the CHS students as well as the rest of the DMU community.”