The Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professions, which pioneered interprofessional education (IPE) locally in 2012, now sees results from this style of learning. IPE expands health care professionals’ knowledge of other professionals roles to optimize patient care. A $1.1 million HRSA grant funds IPE for up to 60 graduate students of small multidisciplinary teams from nursing, nutrition, physical therapy and respiratory therapy to focus on improving patient care in geriatric patients with multiple chronic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. An estimated 60 million Americans now struggle with chronic conditions, a number expected to grow by 35 percent in the next few years.
Data collected on the graduate students’ knowledge and experience with IPE at the beginning of their enrollment and now at the midpoint of the grant show that the students value interprofessional education.
“Based on analysis of evaluation data of students, we have strong preliminary evidence that the interprofessional collaboration (IPC) course has had a significant positive impact on confidence in implementing IPC, preparedness in using IPC core competencies and health care and interprofessional team skills for students who have taken the class. As of summer 2016, we have collected data from a total of 122 students including both IPC students and comparison students for analysis purposes,” says Jennifer Craft Morgan, assistant professor of gerontology and grant statistician.
In addition, the graduate students are co-authors on three of four peer-reviewed abstracts that have been accepted for regional and national conferences in nursing, physical therapy and gerontology. Students are also working with the grant faculty on two manuscripts for publication next year.
As part of the grant, students may participate in a new clinical rotation at Grady Hospital’s interprofessional specialty acute care of the elderly (ACE) unit, where student groups join in daily collaborative rounds with Grady health professionals.
“All the research out [on IPE] shows that the collaborative approach to care reduces readmission rates, shortens length of stay in the hospital, mortality rates decline. It’s an all-around positive impact,” says Chip Zimmerman, IPE faculty member and clinical assistant professor of respiratory therapy.