June 24, 2010

Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation Grant to Enhance Physician and Nursing Education with Student-Run Free Clinic and More at CWRU

Case Western Reserve University's proposed student-run Saturday Free Clinic, slated to open in 2011 for Cleveland's underserved population, will provide the training grounds for future doctors and nurses to learn to work as healthcare partners for the patient. The Clinic would be a student-led partnership with the already existing resource for the community, The Free Medical Clinic of Greater Cleveland.

The clinic is part of a project called "Interprofessional Learning Exchange and Development Program" (I-LEAD) at Case Western Reserve University's School of Medicine and Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing that received a $640,000 grant from the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation. This project supports the foundation's goals to improve education for health professionals in the interest of public health and to reflect changes in the healthcare system.

"This grant works toward changing the culture of healthcare. In addition to providing services, student doctors and nurses will experience how people think and function in their different roles as health professionals and learn to work as a team," said Daniel Ornt, vice dean for education and academic affairs at the School of Medicine.

Ornt and Patricia Underwood, executive associate dean for academic affairs at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, will lead the project over the next four years. The Weatherhead School of Management also will participate by analyzing team and organization dynamics.

Underwood said educating nurses and physicians to work as teams from the beginning and throughout their education will eventually change how healthcare is delivered and enhance the quality of care.

This grant builds on funding the university received in 2009 from the Institute for Healthcare Improvement/Macy Foundation initiative to strengthen medical and nursing education. The nursing and medical students have already started to build communication skills to improve safety and quality of care through a simulated patient exercise and seminars.

Major leaders in healthcare, such as the World Health Organization, National League for Nursing and the Carnegie Foundation, have issued calls to strengthen interprofessional collaborations as one component in transforming the health system.

"It is insufficient to teach about interprofessional practice," said Underwood. "It has to be experienced in the context of what they will eventually practice."

The grant enhances the curricula at the two schools by finding opportunities to incorporate exchanges between medical and nursing students. The ultimate goal of the Foundation and Case Western Reserve is to develop interprofessional curriculum models that can be shared with other schools across the country.

I-LEAD curriculum consists of five components that provide some real-life experiences within the different school curricula:

  • Small group experiences bring nursing and medical students together.
  • Simulated patient situations and other learning activities of 2 to 4 hours focus on communication skills to enhance patient safety and outcomes.
  • A community laboratory in a Cleveland neighborhood or school will address health promotion and disease prevention issues that particularly pertain to middle school youth.
  • An inpatient laboratory in a healthcare setting will bring the student professionals together in a real-life general medical unit at a hospital.
  • The student-run free clinic laboratory — one of only a few in the country run by students associated with a medical school — will serve as the capstone experience for the program.

A national movement to change the culture in healthcare settings has begun, according to Ornt, but it still is not widespread.

The university's affiliate hospitals have already begun to work towards this cultural change, Ornt said.

"Everyone, patients and their families, will benefit from this cultural change," Underwood said.

For more information contact Susan Griffith, 216.368.1004.

Posted by: Kimyette Finley, June 24, 2010 08:50 AM | News Topics: Community Outreach, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Grants, Healthcare, School of Medicine, Students, Weatherhead School of Management, news

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