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RN and MD students team Up for interprofessional collaboration

Saturday, May 01, 2010 - RN and MD students team Up for interprofessional collaboration

Media Contact:
Nikki Llorin

ST. LOUIS - A typical office visit or hospital stay isn’t without its challenges. In an academic setting, the patient is first seen by a nurse, then by a resident or fellow, and then finally by the attending physician. During the course of these interactions the patient may tell each one different pieces of information that may not always be communicated to all team members.

A joint interprofessional simulation experience organized by Goldfarb School of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish College and Washington University School of Medicine hopes to educate its students about the importance of communication between nurses and physicians in the patient care setting.

The interprofessional simulation team members paired up 14 third-year medical students in their surgical clerkship with 14 upper division nursing students in their final term of study. They ran through two case scenarios using standardized patients. The scenarios focused on patient issues of pain.

“The goal of the interprofessional simulation experience was to foster communication among the health care disciplines; it provided an arena where nursing students and medical students were able to see each other’s role in the health care team,” says Beth Haas, MPH, Director of the Clinical Simulation Institute. “This experience provided opportunities for both sets of students to explore and discuss the differences they encountered during the scenarios.”

Medical and nursing students undergo different educational methods, which leads to different approaches to patient care. Yet the practice of nursing and medicine are fundamentally intertwined. Effective communication between the two disciplines is critical to a patient’s proper diagnosis and treatment. In fact, studies have shown that greater collaboration between medical and nursing teams can improve health care delivery and patient outcomes.

“As health care providers, we often talk about the patient care ‘team.’ But is it teamwork in the true sense if a physician writes an order and an hour later a nurse reads it in the chart and implements it?” says Amy Lawson, MD, Director of the Standardized Patient Program at Washington University School of Medicine. “After seeing and discussing patients during our project, students commented on how useful it was to discuss the plan of care with each other, since each party had useful suggestions to share. We hope that in the future, these future physicians and nurses will remember this lesson.”