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Simulation to Spur Interdisciplinary Learning in Health Care

March 25 2015

A group of students working on the last interdisciplinary health care training event in October. Courtesy of the Drexel Student Government Organization for the School of Public Health.

No one’s job is done in a vacuum. Someone may go to school for one major but when he comes out into the “real world,” he finds a host of others with different skill sets and competencies.

Two Drexel graduate students have acknowledged that fact and are now doing their best to train students to work better with each other once they move on from the University into their careers.

As part of National Public Health Week, Alex Krengel and Evan Gooberman, both students in the School of Public Health, have worked together to create an interprofessional health simulation slated for April 9. It is open to any graduate student who feels it may benefit him or her post-college.

“What we were frustrated by was that we didn’t have exposure to other students in nursing, in the law program, in business, health industries … We wanted to create more opportunities for that,” said Krengel, who, like Gooberman, will graduate in June.

Kathleen Ryan, head of simulations in the College of Medicine, and Leland Rockstraw, PhD, assistant dean of simulations in the College of Nursing and Health Professions, are helping to run the training. It will be broken into six scenarios, three being clinical in nature and three not. In the three clinical scenarios, actors play patients and present symptoms and other factors to provide those who attend a test of what they might encounter in reality. It’s a practice medical students are already familiar with but one Krengel and Gooberman feel could benefit other students.

“We wanted to expose other students to that process,” Krengel said.

Many cases encountered in the professional world transcend one person’s degree and might require the expertise of another.

For example, one scenario in the training might involve a pediatric patient with trauma symptoms pointing toward potential child abuse. In that case, students with law degrees and psychology know-how would have insight. A non-clinical scenario used when Gooberman and Krengel developed their first interdisciplinary training in October involved the ramifications of the closure of an urban hospital, in which the medical discussions also involve urban planning.

For the October session, they issued surveys before and after the training and found that students progressed in areas that included teamwork and understanding the roles and responsibility of health care systems, areas believed to be key competencies by a collection of associations tied with health profession schools, according to Krengel.

“We’re trying to promote cross-disciplinary thinking,” he said. “These students are going to go out in the workforce and interact with people who are doctors in the medical field, but also people with a law background or a management degree. In the workforce, that’s another learning experience. We’re trying to spur that learning now.”

Those interested in taking part in the training next month can register here.