Interdisciplinary collaboration may play an important role in the education of future clinicians in the rapidly changing healthcare environment. That, according to researchers at American International College. The research was presented recently at the Annual Conference of the American Association of Schools of Allied Health held in Orlando.
Students and faculty at AIC's School of Health Sciences investigated the impact of collaborative, inter-professional teaching by nursing and physical therapy faculty using structured patient simulation lab experiences in the preparation of physical therapy students.
Cesarina Thompson, Ph.D., Dean of the AIC School of Health Sciences, said a group of 33 AIC students were divided into two groups, with half of them working on patient care case studies, as is the traditional approach, and the others took the same patient, and essentially bought him to life through simulation, where students were able to interact with the case study, and evaluate a real patient. "The students in the simulation group were co-taught by a physical therapy professor, Patrick Carley, and a nursing professor, Dina Ditmar. Thus, students benefited from the interprofessional instruction and gaining a broader insight into patient care," she said.
Carley said the study is important because the The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will result in significant changes to the delivery of healthcare. “One of the main ways the Affordable Care Act seeks to reduce health care costs is by encouraging doctors, hospitals and other health care providers to form accountable care organization networks to coordinate care better, which are expected to keep costs down while improving patient care outcomes,” he said.
According to Ditmar, using structured patient simulation lab experiences in the preparation of physical therapy students, the objective was to measure and compare the correlation between pre and post perceived self-assessment ratings of clinical performance measures.
"While both groups showed gains in learning and understanding the management of patients with cardiopulmonary issues, the learning specifics and concepts emphasized in each of the different lab experiences were different. For example, a major concept in the patient simulation group was critical thinking, which they were rated higher on by their clinical instructors. The control group did better with PT diagnosis and treatment outcomes, which were emphasized in the PT faculty only group," she said.
Ditmar said it was a great learning experience for everyone involved. "We all feel that this is a very current and exciting topic that warrants more investigation. Regardless of statistical evidence, the growth of the students was very obvious by the end of the four sessions," she said.
While further study is well warranted, Ditmar said, "it is quite clear that patient simulation and interdisciplinary collaborative instruction would provide better learning opportunities and increase critical reasoning and clinical skills."