August 21, 2013 | Leave a Comment
BUIES CREEK — In a perfect world, doctors respect their physician assistants or nurses, and they have close-working relationships with local pharmacists or physical therapists.
Familiarity with their health care colleagues makes for a more well-oiled health care machine, right?
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.
There are roughly 85,000 physician assistants working in the United States (a number expected to jump by 40 percent over the next 10 years), yet a recent survey showed that only half of all practicing physicians have worked alongside a PA. That unfamiliarity tends to lead to a lack of respect, according to Dr. Vicky Kaprielian, professor and associate dean for faculty development and medical education at Campbell University’s new School of Osteopathic Medicine.
“There are certainly some doctors who behave poorly toward other health care professionals,” Kaprielian said. “There is not universal respect of equality toward the various professions. And there should be.”
In an effort to build that familiarity and respect before their students head out into the professional world, students from Campbell’s medical, physician assistant, pharmacy and public health programs took part in the university’s inaugural First-Year Health Professional Interprofessional Day on Aug. 14 on Campbell’s main campus. Approximately 340 students from the four programs were mixed into groups of 15 and took part in case studies and team-building exercises before gathering at Turner Auditorium for a panel discussion.
The goal was to prepare the students for the inevitable interprofessional settings and scenarios they’ll come across in their careers and to introduce them to the students in other programs working toward the same goal — to improve health care services in North Carolina and beyond.
“They learn the strengths of these other professions and how they will complement these other professions down the road,” said Michael Adams, assistant dean for graduate and interprofessional education. “Our goal is simply better patient outcomes, and we feel we can get there when we have a better understanding of what other professions do.”
The students in Kaprielian’s and Tim Bloom’s group was made up of mostly med school students, with a few physician assistant and pharmacy students and one public health student. Their session began with an “ice breaker” activity where they introduced themselves and then asked each other questions about their programs. Immediately, the familiarity began to seep in.
“I had no idea med school students had to take three board exams after their second year,” said pharmacy student Ranjit Poomen.
Med student Robert Adams knew nothing about the public health profession coming in. “They basically educate the public on health and environmental issues,” he said. “I found that interesting.”
Some non-PA students were impressed with the fact that a physician assistant’s 28-month degree plan comes with no extended breaks. Non-med school students learned more about osteopathic medicine and how DOs differ from MDs.
“With knowledge comes respect, and we’re here to help these students establish relationships,” said Bloom, the vice chairman of pharmaceutical sciences and an associate professor at Campbell. “We are all health care students, and we all have the same goals.”
Case studies included an ethics discussion on use of social media when related to a patient and how to deal with patients who are illiterate or have a low literacy rate. The third case involved a scenario where a child suffers from apparent asthma but is subjected to pollen, fertilizers and mold because he lives on a family farm.
With Campbell launching new programs and currently in the accreditation process for potential future programs such as nursing and physical therapy, Adams said the school’s interprofessional program will continue to grow. According to Adams, the framework for a formal program is being developed by a committee and will be presented to the individual programs as they build their curriculums. It is anticipated that this First Year Health Professional Interprofessional Day will be the initial introductory experience for all health programs.
By Billy Liggett, Photo by Bill Parish
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