A Fast Pivot to Expand Interprofessional Education Through Online Team Training
Interprofessional team-based training (IPTT) can contribute to creating a more collaborative and practice-ready healthcare workforce. Designed by educators from diverse professions, our IPTT program aims to provide an introductory experience, centered on team-based care planning to improve patient health in the community setting. IPTT provides a clinically relevant opportunity for students from multiple professions to experience learning across four interprofessional (IP) competency sub-domains, addressing effective IP communication and teamwork, increasing understanding roles and responsibilities, demonstrating shared values, and professional ethics. Implemented over 10 years, prior to the COVID pandemic, IPTT served approximately 900 students in two cohorts, in-person each year. COVID-19 forced IPTT faculty to pivot swiftly to online delivery via Zoom, providing an opportunity for nursing students, and other health professions, to obtain clinically focused IP learning experiences.
Students from nursing (BSN), medicine, dentistry, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, laboratory sciences, social work, and public health are placed in IP groups of approximately 10-15 students. Students are assigned pre-event activities, including preparing an elevator pitch to introduce their profession to their team. Groups are divided into smaller teams to focus on a patient case designed to address social determinants of health. Trained team facilitators use a video (standardized patient interview) and training guide for the 1.5-hour experience. In the process of developing their plan together, student teams are guided by facilitators to explore professional roles, values, priorities, and most importantly, communicate with students from other professions.
After successfully piloting ‘IPTT on-line’ during summer 2020 (18 group sessions), ‘IPTT on-line’ served 324 learners from 10 professions in Fall 2020, and 447 learners from 12 professions in Spring 2021. Student and facilitator feedback revealed significant advantages to on-line delivery including greater scheduling flexibility, increased access to “distance” students, smaller group size and expanded reach to new professions. Students shared that they enjoyed the learning experience, valued the opportunity to engage in IP teamwork, and acknowledged the value of other professions. Students appreciated smaller group size and greater diversity in professions. ICCAS survey scores showed similar improvements in student perceptions for in-person and on-line mode.
Benefits of Online IPTT outweigh challenges in running large IPE events. The ability to run IPTT ‘on-demand’ balances initial logistical challenges such as re-training facilitators and adapting to online engagement strategies. Future evaluation will examine outcomes for on-line cohorts across different professions with pre-COVID delivery and explore strategies for sustaining hybrid delivery.