Bulletin of Dental Education

MCPHS Health Professions Schools Engage in Interprofessional Collaboration in Older Adult Outreach Program

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The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (MCPHS) is a school of health professions. In 2015, a group of faculty representing multiple health professions on the Worcester campus began planning an interprofessional education (IPE) event that would address the four core competencies set forth for interprofessional collaborative practice.

One evening each semester, for a total of three semesters, a health education and discipline-specific screening event was held for older adults at a local community living facility. The three different events focused on hypertension, nutrition or general health/falls. Students and faculty were from the Schools of Pharmacy, Nursing, Optometry, Dental Hygiene and Physical Therapy.

Pre-event:Students completed the 18-item Interdisciplinary Education Perception Scale (IEPS). Five student-led teams were formed to evaluate patients and included one student from each health profession. Students met their team members, described their respective screenings and decided the order of screenings. Students were upper-level in their curriculum with experience performing their screenings. Faculty were available to guide if necessary. Patients were evaluated individually by a team and each patient team evaluation was allotted 30 minutes. Health screenings included medication reviews, blood pressure, vision, oral health, balance and fall risk. 

Post-event:Students completed a second IEPS and took part in a faculty-student debriefing session. 

Sixty-four students participated in the anonymous pre/post event surveys. Pre- and post-event survey responses from all three events were combined for analysis. 

Below is a sample of questions from the IEPS.

Qualitative Outcomes: 
“Multitasking together as a team working with real people made me realize the importance of teamwork and communication.”

“It was a perfect environment that allowed everyone to contribute and come together as a unit and work with a real person.”

“It was great to work as part of an interdisciplinary team to see and learn from each other’s actions.”

Nonsimulated interprofessional learning experiences helped students connect didactic training to a real person. Students rported a positive change in their perceptions of being able to work closely with individuals in other professions when given opportunities to work in teams to promote health and interact with older adults in the community. Health professional students indicated they understand the benefits of working collaboratively.

Published on Oct. 9, 2019

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