Picture a kaleidoscope. What comes to mind? Bright hues of blue, purple, green and more in hundreds of shapes in varying sizes, wonderfully and cohesively coming together in different patterns to create one beautiful piece of art.
Students at Gannon’s Ruskin Campus have engaged in several interprofessional experiences that are much like a kaleidoscope.
The occupational therapy doctorate, physician assistant, physical therapy, and speech and language pathology programs came together throughout this academic year for three types of interprofessional experiences alongside faculty and various community partners.
Physical Therapy student Teanna Parisio engages with a student at Post Sunshine Ranch Preschool during “Assessment Day.”
These intentional trainings provided students firsthand experience working with patients. Each one replicated a cross-collaborate environment students will soon be working in, allowing them to bring their unique scope of work and role in delivering patient care together, like the pieces of a kaleidoscope.
One interprofessional experience, “Tone Day,” brought together PA, PT and OTD students imitating muscle tone of spinal cord patients to practice transfers of patients of all body types within different settings.
“This experience makes learning accessible for all learner types – it was great for the type of learner I am,” said Teanna Parisio, PT student. “We were able to use our hands while learning in a safe, trial-and-error type setting and get immediate feedback from our professors that really connected what we learned in the classroom to what we were practicing in real time.”
Students had the opportunity to see and understand the intricacies of each other's roles and how they fit together to create an interconnected pattern of teamwork. They learned how crucial it is to combine their knowledge, communication and professionalism to achieve the best patient-centered care.
Custom Mobility Inc. toured PT, OTD and SLP students through its facility as a community partner engaged in Gannon’s interprofessional experiences.
“I was not anticipating how much I would learn about the importance of communication,” said Parisio. “Not only that, but also professionalism in understanding and respecting each other in order to work well as a team.” She shared that these skills have already given her a step up in her field work at Tampa General Hospital.
Another interprofessional day, “Wheelchair Day,” brought PT, OTD, and SLP students together at Custom Mobility, Inc. in Largo, Fla. Here, they toured the facility and learned how to make power wheelchairs for various patient diagnoses to better understand the resources available to practitioners to help their clients.
Second-year OTD student, Maie Grisham, values the knowledge and confidence she’s gained.
“I was not anticipating how much I would learn about the importance of communication. ... Not only that, but also professionalism in understanding and respecting each other in order to work well as a team.”
- Teanna Parisio
“The IPE days have been such an integral part of my educational experience. It is very rare that I will not be consulting with colleagues of different professions when I am in the field. These allowed me to gain better insight into the inter-workings of other health care professions and how we can best work together to improve the life of our clients,” said Grisham.
Students learned more about power wheelchairs for various patient diagnoses from staff members at Custom Mobility Inc.
“Assessment Day,” or “Baby Day,” brought PT, OTD and SLP students together in the fall and spring semesters at Post Sunshine Ranch Preschool in Brandon, Fla. to perform fine and gross motor assessments on children ages one through five. Students learned the importance of milestones in a patient’s childhood and impacts they have on their adult life.
Grisham found the teamwork across each program really shined through during this experience. “We knew we all had to get things tested, so we constantly asked questions, ‘What do you need to see? What do you need me to get them to do?’ It was so helpful and honestly so fun.”
“These experiences are providing students like me real-life answers not found in our textbooks to prepare us as future health care professionals. They are leaving a lasting impact on our educational experiences”
- Teanna Parisio
Karen Dishman, OTD, assistant professor in Gannon’s OTD program, was proud to make these experiences possible for her students. “We are working to make these IPE experiences an integral part of the health care professional student experience,” she said.
“Gannon focuses on service in the community as part of its Catholic values … The collaboration with community partners both accomplishes the service-learning component of the university’s mission and teaches the students the importance of community work and involvement. It reminds me of why I chose to teach at a collegiate level and why I chose to pursue my teaching career at Gannon – service learning,” said Dishman.
“These experiences are providing students like me real-life answers not found in our textbooks to prepare us as future health care professionals. They are leaving a lasting impact on our educational experiences, and I am very grateful to our community partners who’ve shared these opportunities with us,” Parisio expressed.
These interprofessional experiences exposed students to different health care practices on a wide range of patient ages and diagnoses, and enhanced students’ professional and communication skills. They provided a holistic learning experience that is preparing students for their boards, giving them confidence in their abilities, and deepening their understanding of patient-centered care and their roles among colleagues to come together like a kaleidoscope to achieve a common goal of helping patients.