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News Release

September 14, 2012

Pioneering health care course at Ohio University teaches the value of teamwork 

A unique collaboration between a local nursing care center and two Ohio University colleges is training a group of students in the team-based approach they will need to succeed in their health care careers.

The Interprofessional Course, the University’s first clinical collaboration of this kind, involves students from the College of Health Sciences and Professions (CHSP) and Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine (HCOM), along with two residents of The Laurels of Athens, a local nursing care center. The course promotes interaction among students in osteopathic medicine, social work, nutrition, physical therapy and communication sciences and disorders.

Students participating in the fall course have divided into two teams of five each. Each group is interviewing and assessing a Laurels resident, meeting at the nursing care facility six times during the fall semester to talk with the resident, with the goal of understanding how they as a caregiver can be more efficient and provide the best experience for the patient by working together.

The course’s architects want the students to learn from each other and value the contribution from each of a patient’s caregivers, including the patient herself. This team-based approach has implications far beyond the course’s syllabus. A recent report from the Institute of Medicine estimates that in 2009, about $750 billion – nearly a third of U.S. health care costs that year – was spent needlessly due to a lack of coordination and efficiency in the system.

“Training students from all aspects of the health care team together will enlighten and improve communication and respect among health care providers, which will ultimately lead to better health care for our patients,” said Nicole Wadsworth, an assistant professor of family medicine and interim senior associate dean of academic affairs in HCOM. Wadsworth co-teaches the course with Averell Overby, associate professor of physical therapy and interim associate dean for strategic initiatives in CHSP.

“We are very pleased with the interactions among the students,” Overby said. “We met with the first team to determine (patient) interview questions, and I think they were surprised by the degree of overlap in what they needed to know to perform an effective assessment.”

On a recent visit to the facility, one team of student caregivers pored over a chart containing their patient’s medical history before asking her questions about her care. The team’s aspiring physical therapist wanted to know about any problems with balance and falls. The osteopathic physician-in-training inquired about her medical condition and medications. The others asked the resident about problems with swallowing, food allergies and what kinds of activities she was enjoying at the facility.

Shaun Gentner, administrator at The Laurels, told the team that the resident remains upbeat despite having had several recent medical issues.

“We are trying to keep her as independent as possible while keeping her safe,” he said. “Interaction between the different disciplines is essential in our day-to-day clinical operation. With so many moving pieces and regulatory requirements in our health care system, it is imperative all disciplines have the ability to work together seamlessly.”

The two teams of students will The Laurels residents again on Sept. 24, Oct. 8 and 22, and Nov. 5 and 19.

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Media Contacts

Katharine Quaranta
Communications Specialist, External Communications
740.593.0858 
quaranta@ohio.edu  

Jennifer Krisch
Communications Specialist, External Communications
740.597.1939 
krisch@ohio.edu  

After hours on-call media specialist: 740.593.2200