Training Future Health Providers to Care for the Underserved: A Pilot Interprofessional Experience
Koronkowski, Michael J.
Kondratowicz, Diane M.
Goliak, Kristen L.
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Introduction: Interprofessional teamwork is essential for effective delivery of health care to all patients, particularly the vulnerable and underserved. This brief communication describes a pilot interprofessional learning experience designed to introduce medicine and pharmacy students to critical health issues affecting at-risk, vulnerable patients and helping students learn the value of functioning effectively in interprofessional teams. Methods: With reflective practice as an overarching principle, readings, writing assignments, a community-based immersion experience, discussion seminars, and presentations were organized to cultivate students’ insights into key issues impacting the health and well-being of vulnerable patients. A written program evaluation form was used to gather students’ feedback about this learning experience. Results: Participating students evaluated this learning experience positively. Both quantitative and qualitative input indicated the usefulness of this learning experience in stimulating learners’ thinking and helping them learn to work collaboratively with peers from another discipline to understand and address health issues for at-risk, vulnerable patients within their community. Discussion: Th is pilot educational activity helped medicine and pharmacy students learn the value of functioning effectively in interprofessional teams. Given the importance of interprofessional teamwork and the increasing need to respond to the health needs of underserved populations, integrating interprofessional learning experiences in health professions training is highly relevant, feasible, and critically needed.