Preparing future health care professionals for interdisciplinary health services

Preparing future health care professionals for interdisciplinary health services

To keep on the cutting edge, healthcare educational institutions are rethinking and retooling old instructional models
Brad Marcum, the Director of Academic Data Services at the University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine

The healthcare industry is in flux. As more Americans acquire insurance, providers are moving towards an integrated care model with doctors, nurses and social workers, working in coordinated teams. “Traditionally, all the different professionals in healthcare have been stuck in their own silos. But this is changing,” says Brad Marcum, the Director of Academic Data Services at the University of Pikeville (UPike)-Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (KYCOM). To keep on the cutting edge, healthcare educational institutions like KYCOM are rethinking and retooling old instructional models. In Pikeville, Marcum has helped to pioneer an integrated pedagogical approach to prepare their Osteopath students for the changing landscape.

Two years ago Marcum and KYCOM launched a 40-student pilot program that brought together doctors, nurses, social workers and pharmacists in the same classroom. The class emphasizes dialogue and teamwork, and features instructors from a variety of backgrounds. “We are getting students to talk to each other, roleplay, and understand eachothers’ skills. This goes a long way to prepare them for an integrated workplace,” says Marcum. At UBTech 2014, Marcum will lead a session exploring how other schools can integrate their own health care education programs to prepare for the future, "A bigger sandbox: Preparing future health care professionals for interdisciplinary health services."

Making changes in healthcare curriculum is a hard process. “It’s like moving a battleship,” says Marcum. Students and professors can be deeply embedded within their own disciplines, and can fail to see value in an integrated class. When KYCOM introduced social workers into the mixed curriculum, for example, many osteopaths did not initially see the value, since social worker does require hard sciences. “Students often see things from a narrow perspective,” says Marcum.

But in today’s healthcare environment, social workers routinely work side-by-side with physicians to provide holistic care for patients. “Communicating those sorts of ideas requires strong leadership,” says Marcum. “To put together a successful multidisciplinary strategy, universities must choose an effective coordinator, who knows how to talk to different audiences,” he says. That coordinator can then chose a group of students who are best suited for an integrated environment. Getting the right group together, Marcum says, is a necessary first step.

KYCOM will keep tabs on their students after they leave campus, to ensure that the integrated curriculum makes an impact. “When they go out on residencies, we plan to keep in touch,” says Marcum. “We want the integrated curriculum to benefit our our students’ careers over the long term”

Click to learn more about the upcoming UBTech session, "A bigger sandbox: Preparing future health care professionals for interdisciplinary health services."


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