A Virtual Interprofessional Education Model to Strengthen Basic Anatomy Instruction
Currently, students have few opportunities for interprofessional education (IPE) in the basic sciences, with related curricula largely carried out in school-specific silos. We hypothesized that basic anatomy education, exposure to IPE competencies and hand sensibility testing (HST) may require interprofessional collaboration from students in medical (MED), occupational therapy (OT), and physician assistant (PA) programs to improve patient outcomes in their future health profession careers. Select cohorts of MED, OT, and PA students were recruited to form student IPE teams after receiving IRB approval for this study. Student volunteers participated in this study over Zoom sessions due to the social distancing requirements imposed secondary to the COVID-19 pandemic. Pre and post training assessment questions were developed using a combination of validated surveys from IPEC Competency Self-assessment tool and the SPICE-R2 assessment tool and were deployed to students using Qualtrics. All student volunteers completed pre-training and post-training assessments to measure the effectiveness of the didactic aspects of training and progress towards attainment of IPE competencies. Student IPE teams were assigned to work on a clinical scenario and were encouraged to take advantage of each team member’s professional expertise, training and knowledge to determine a likely diagnosis and possible clinical treatments for a hypothetical patient. Results obtained from the pre- and post-survey questions indicated that student perceptions improved significantly in 10 of the 26 survey questions. Student perceptions significantly improved regarding their role within an interprofessional team (p=.003), reduction in healthcare costs when patients/clients are treated by an interprofessional team (p= 0.01) and demonstration of high standards of ethical conduct in their contribution to team-based care (p=0.03). Student understanding of their responsibilities and expertise of other health professionals significantly increased (p=0.02) and students also felt that they were able to choose communication tools and techniques that facilitated effective team interactions (p=.001). Virtual sessions significantly increased students’ perceived ability to engage other health professionals to constructively manage disagreements about patient care and improved their ability to inform care decisions by integrating the knowledge and experience of other professions. Results from this study suggest that virtual IPE focused on basic science instruction, contextualized within patient care scenarios, is an effective way to increase student awareness of IPE competencies. Institutions with limited available curricular space for IPE activities are encouraged to leverage shared basic science content and online connectivity.