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Dental Hygiene and Clinical Lab Science Students at Indiana University South Bend Work Together to Gain New Perspectives

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IUSD Photo 2We all have our own areas of expertise, but how do our roles fit into the bigger picture? The positive impact of interprofessional education (IPE) on student learning is well documented. The topic of IPE is particularly relevant in the health science fields, but it also provides useful information for learning to communicate across disciplines as a faculty and as a campus. Areas of study such as sociology, history, language and culture can also benefit by learning to work alongside each other to maximize student understanding, deep thinking and success. For all adults in education, widening the lens in which education is perceived is beneficial for lifelong learning. 

Indiana University South Bend (IU SB) created an IPE activity with Clinical Laboratory Science and Dental Hygiene students on the topic of periodontal microbiology. In its IPE activity, which took place in February 2020, participants worked alongside each other and saw periodontal pathogens up close and in person in the clinical lab. Together, with the guidance of their professors, participants looked at and describe these bacteria and explored how the bacteria progress and change in the disease process. These examples were accompanied by patient case information so that systemic risks and links were also explored. 

Understanding Disease From a Patient and Lab Perspective
This active-learning experience brought together students in two separate clinical-based programs in the Vera Z. Dwyer College of Health Sciences. Through this active-learning experience, students visualized the intention and purposes of clinical procedures by bringing to life and magnifying textbook content and microscopic realities of the health care setting. 

Students in the Division of Dental Education study periodontal disease and its impact on the systemic health and well-being of patients. In the course, DHYG-H321 Periodontics, students gain an understanding of the pathophysiology of periodontal disease and experience with identifying the clinical manifestation in patients. Typically, they do not get the opportunity to see and study the causative agents of such conditions. On the other side of the fence, Clinical Laboratory Science students enrolled in CLS-M403 Clinical Microbiology and CLS-M404 Microbiology Methods study the microorganisms that cause clinical conditions, such as periodontal disease. However, they only view the microorganisms from the perspective of the specimen submitted, rather than the patient from whom the specimen was collected. Coincidentally, DHYG-H321 and CLS-M403/M404 are taught by their respective programs during the same semester, which brings the opportunity for an interprofessional experience.  

Dental hygiene students collected specimens from patients with various stages of periodontal disease. The specimens were brought to the Clinical Laboratory Science student laboratory at Dwyer Hall, where students from both disciplines worked in groups to culture, identify and correlate findings to the clinical case type and risk factors of the patient.

IUSD Photo 1“On Feb. 19, students took the specimens to the lab and streaked the plates, and grew the bacteria,” says Kelsey Miller, LDH, B.S.D.H., Clinical Lecturer in Dental Education at Indiana University South Bend who developed the IPE activity with Barbara Spinda, M.S., MLS(ASCP)CM, Clinical Assistant Professor in Clinical Lab Sciences. “On Feb. 26, students gram-stained them and rotated around the lab to look at them under the scopes. Each scope had different attributes of the patient listed next to it so that what they viewed could be compared to the appearance of the slides,” Prof. Miller says.

There is no published outline for an activity such as this; therefore, the entire exercise was created by the professors of the courses. The design and development of this activity was based on learning outcomes for the respective Clinical Laboratory Science and Dental Hygiene courses in which the experience was gained.

Additionally, students evaluated the effects of various disinfection and antimicrobial rinsing agents on bacteria cultured from patient specimens. This was based on an experiment described by Jeffrey Banas, Ph.D., in 2012, in which the efficacy of agents is compared based on the growth inhibition of selected bacteria.

Courtesy of Kelsey Miller, LDH, B.S.D.H., Clinical Lecturer in Dental Education at Vera Z. Dwyer College of Health Sciences at Indiana University South Bend.

Published on May 13, 2020

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