Collaborative initiative connects students with the community

Collaborative initiative connects students with the community

February 21, 2014


Community mentor Isbael Guggenheimer and her team at last year's
Collaboration In Action mentor appreciation event.

By Rosie Hales, Communications Officer

For the past five weeks, second-year students in the Faculty of Health Sciences have been working together to develop a health-care plan for a community member affected with a chronic or complex health condition. The work is part of this year’s Collaboration in Action (CIA) initiative.

CIA, led by faculty member Anne O’Riordan, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, and Jo-Anne Peterson, School of Nursing, is an annual initiative based out of the Office of Interprofessional Education & Practice (OIPEP) within the Faculty of Health Sciences. This year, CIA involved over 270 students organized into teams of three or four Nursing, Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy students working together to experience interprofessional collaboration, as well as develop their patient care skills.

“What’s exceptional about this program is that our student teams are partnering and working with community members who are the experts in their own personal health stories,” says Rosemary Brander, director of the OIPEP. “The responsibility is to ensure that graduates from the Faculty of Health Sciences enter the workforce with interprofessional competencies including a focus on patient/family centred-care and experience in interprofessional communication skills. Working and learning together helps the students to develop better plans of care, which may not be possible when working alone.”

Community members, also known as “mentors,” were partnered with a group of CIA students to discuss their health issues and histories. At the end of the five-week mentor consultation process, the teams presented their interprofessional care plans first to their mentors for feedback and then to 33 faculty and clinician interprofessional judges. Finally, OIPEP hosted an event to show their appreciation for the community mentors where all participants were invited to give their feedback for the initiative.

“I think the students who participated in the CIA project may positively influence the health-care system. CIA helps them become familiar with the roles of other professions and to identify the overlap and to accept this without being threatened,” says Glenn Outhwaite, a community mentor for CIA. “The focus is not only on teamwork but the need to ensure the patient and/or family are essential members of the team, and the need to include and listen to the patient and/or family."

For more information on the CIA initiative, follow this link.