Posted on December 10, 2014

A woman brings her husband to the hospital’s Emergency Department. He has Type 1 diabetes and has been taking insulin shots regularly for the past year. This week he came down with a stomach flu, and a couple of days ago stopped taking the insulin. Now he is confused and upset and needs medical care. A team of 72 nursing and pharmacy students go to work on assessing him and prescribing treatment.

This is not a real situation. Rather, University of Calgary in Qatar (UCQ) nursing instructors invented the scenario to foster interprofessional education between students in various healthcare disciplines. “In their real working lives nurses collaborate with other healthcare professionals in the delivery of patient care,” explains Roxanne Zeifflie, UCQ nursing instructor. “During this workshop our nursing students and the pharmacy students go through all the stages they would go through from emergency room care, to hospital admission, to the discharge plan.”

“We believe that this is a very effective strategy in teaching students about complex problems,” says Zohra Hasnani-Samnani, UCQ Nursing Instructor.

Understanding what other healthcare professions have to offer is very important to nursing, says nursing instructor Merry Jo Levers. UCQ student Mihi Chandrarante agrees. “I know more now about the different roles of pharmacy and nursing students and how we can work together, and that helps me to be a better nurse,” she says.  At the same time fellow student Mohammed Mustafa points out, “while our professions are 99% the same,” fellow student Mohammed Mustafa points out, “as nurses we focus more on direct patient care.” “And pharmacy focuses more on how medications effect the patient’s body,” adds Gahryman Mayhano.

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Hebatallah Deghady, Teaching assistant at QU appreciates the future benefits of bringing the pharmacy students to UCQ for this Interprofessional workshop opportunity. “We don’t have a nursing school at QU,” she notes, “and when our pharmacy students go to work they need to know more about what the other professions do.  This is a good chance to learn about each other and gain new knowledge.” QU pharmacy student Fatima Abdulla notes that, “the workshop also gives students new information about patient conditions. And, as some students are shy the collaborative setting gives them confidence and breaks the ice.”

Confidence in themselves and their skills, and in the role of their chosen profession to patient care is a key benefit of interprofessional education. “We think this workshop has been very helpful and will add a lot to the students’ learning experience,” says Hasnani-Samnani. “Throughout the workshop students seemed to build confidence and see the value of exchanging information and ideas between people from different disciplines.”

Dr Kerry Wilbur, Associate Professor of Clinical Pharmacy Practice at Qatar University was encouraged by the exchange between the disciplines and in the professionalism the students demonstrated in patient case assessment.  “Teamwork is essential for effective patient care and safe delivery of healthcare. Our students have learned to appreciate others’ skill-sets and what each can offer to patient care. The patients and the healthcare system are the ultimate winners in all of this.”

UCQ nursing instructors who collaborated on the workshop were:  Zohra Hasnani-Samnani, Merry Jo Levers, Roxanne Zeifflie, Diana White, Anne Ballem, and Katie de Leon-Demare. This is the second year the interdisciplinary workshop has taken place and will certainly not be the last.