Physical Therapy

Students Learn Value of Interprofessional Collaboration in Health Care

Written By: Karen Guin | October 23, 2015

Headshots of Lisa Barkley, M.D. and Jen Tucker, D.P.T., PCS.
Lisa Barkley, M.D. and Jen Tucker, D.P.T., PCS

A growing trend in health care education is interprofessional collaboration. According to the National Institutes of Health, studies show that when dealing with complex health issues, patient outcomes significantly improve when they are cared for by an interprofessional team of providers collaborating on health issues. On Thursday, October 1, 2015, students from UCF College of Medicine and the UCF Doctor of Physical Therapy Program participated in their own interprofessional collaboration event to learn about the benefits to patients first hand.

Emily Degan, a medical student studying at the College of Medicine, approached her research project faculty mentor, Jennifer Tucker, a physical therapist and lecturer with the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program, about conducting an interprofessional collaboration event between the medical school and the physical therapy program as part of her project. Degan’s  project involves interprofessional education experiences and care for individuals with developmental disabilities. Tucker saw this as not only a research opportunity for Degan but a unique learning opportunity for other students as well.

The event was held at Quest, Inc., the largest nonprofit service provider for individuals with developmental disabilities in Central Florida. A total of 20 students participated, 10 from the physical therapy program and 10 from the medical school.  The morning began with an introduction from the director of Quest, Inc., and included an overview of the patient population and the lack of advocacy and understanding regarding this population by health care professionals. The students then divided into teams, 1 from each discipline, and were introduced to a Quest client. Each pair conducted a 60 minute neurological exam on their “patient,” and later shared their experiences in a joint group discussion.

Lisa Barkley, a faculty member with the College of Medicine, and Jennifer Tucker led the group discussion which incorporated the four pillars of interprofessional practice: values, roles and responsibilities, interprofessional communication, and team work. The students were highly engaged and shared how valuable their collaborative experience was in understanding more about the roles of other health professionals in patient care. Results from the study will eventually be shared with faculty of both programs. The College of Medicine and the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program are currently exploring future interprofessional experiences for students.

Learn more about Quest and the work they do for individuals with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

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