1,000+ aspiring health professionals to get “interprofessional” Feb. 22

Des Moines University knows that students in its eight graduate medical/health sciences degree programs need to understand how to work well with people in other health professions. That’s why its clinical students will be among more than 1,000 medical/health sciences students from DMU, Drake University, Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC), Grand View University and Mercy College of Health Sciences who will come together this Friday for an afternoon of networking and learning from and with each other.

This fifth annual Interprofessional Education (IPE) Student Day, held at Valley Church in West Des Moines, will engage future physicians, physician assistants, physical therapists, pharmacists, nurses and others in a case study designed to demonstrate how each profession can contribute to the patient’s treatment plan.

Hundreds of medical/health sciences students gathered at last year’s Interprofessional Education Student Day. They’ll do so again Feb. 22.

“Interprofessional education is important to students, because they will be working with multiple health care professionals when they begin their professional lives,” says Teri Stumbo, Ph.D., P.T., FASAHP, associate dean of DMU’s College of Health Sciences. “Students need to understand the importance of working with others to ensure the best outcome for the patient. Many of their patients will have complex medical issues that will require a team of professionals to address.”

Nicole Heley Lehman, a DMU physician assistant student, described a previous IPE activity she participated in last fall, a medication titration simulation, as her “initiation into working with other health care providers in a safe yet under-pressure environment.”

“My group consisted of two second-year DMACC nursing students, two second-year pharmacy students from Drake, and me, a first-year PA student. I was very nervous as I had not yet completed a pharmacology course, but I was very glad I had chosen to participate,” she says. “We enjoyed the opportunity to work together as a team, learned about the various roles needed in a semi-emergency situation, and had a good discussion in a non-threatening environment re: things we could have done better. I would definitely sign up for this again.”

IPE gives participants insights on “other professions, their training and the limits of their licensure – what they can and can’t do,” says Steven Harder, D.O., FAAFP, interim chair of family and internal medicine at DMU. That’s been the case for Eric Williams, a second-year osteopathic medical student at DMU who has participated in two IPE events – one, a trivia event and patient case study; and the other, an ethics committee simulation.

“The first event was helpful in learning the different knowledge each of the different health care team members has and how they, specifically, can contribute to patient care,” he says. “The [second] event helped me to explore different perspectives of each of the unique members and also led me to realize that benefit that a diverse group can provide, especially when solving problems.”

IPE also shows students it’s okay to ask colleagues for help.

“Our job is to impress upon the students that they will not always have the answer, and multiple professions may be necessary to provide the best possible care to the patient,” says Dr. Stumbo. “We want students to know they should reach out to other professionals for the good of their patients.”

President Angela L. Walker Franklin, Ph.D.
President Angela Walker Franklin, Ph.D.

DMU President and CEO Angela Walker Franklin, Ph.D., will welcome students to the IPE Student Day on Friday. Sessions will include a mental health case study and time for group reflections – beneficial for medical/health sciences students immersed in their own rigorous academic programs.

“IPE gives everyone an opportunity to collaborate and work as a team with other fields/specialties that you may not get in school but very much resembles real-world experiences,” says Kevin Hejtmanek, D.P.T., a 2007 graduate of DMU’s doctor of physical therapy program and a current student in the University’s master of health care administration program. He is a physical therapist in the rehabilitation services department at Stewart Memorial Community Hospital in Lake City, IA. “I have participated in IPEs as a health care provider and as an administrator. Highly useful and highly recommended!”