News and Commentary Improving Quality and Safety for Diverse Populations

Introducing an interprofessional curriculum focusing on safe and effective care for patients with Limited English Proficiency

By Gail B. Gall, PhD, APRN, BC, Clinical Assistant Professor, MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston School of Nursing and Alexander R. Green, MD, MPH, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Associate Director, MGH Disparities Solutions Center

A fifth of the U.S. population above five years of age live in households in which a language other than English is spoken (U.S. Census, 2013). Newly revised standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services stress the responsibility for all clinicians to “provide effective, equitable, understandable, and respectful quality care and services” to all (Office of Minority Health, 2013).

In response to this pressing need, the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) Disparities Solution Center and the MGH Institute of Health Professions (IHP) have partnered to develop an interprofessional (IP) course focusing on improving quality and safety of care delivered to patients with Limited English Proficiency (LEP).

In this post, we share recent experiences piloting this IP curriculum with medical and nurse practitioner students.

A Three-Pronged Approach
We have three curriculum goals for our students: increase awareness and concern about the high rate of errors experienced by patients with LEP, acquire skills in working effectively in teams that include professional medical interpreters, and advocate for improved systems of care for this vulnerable population.

The course consists of three modules, each of which addresses a specific goal. There are three learning activities for each module: an individual E-learning content-based session, a live workshop in which students work in IP teams with faculty advisors and interpreters with simulated patient scenarios, and an online learning exercise which challenges IP student teams to collaborate in problem solving.

A Successful Pilot
Preliminary data indicate that the pilot implementation was very successful. Invited expert observers from nursing, medical and IP health professions education remarked on the levels of student engagement. Pre and post student assessments point to improvements in knowledge, skills, and attitudes not only in the patient safety domain, but also in regard to IP education.

From our perspective, key factors in the success of the project to date include:

  • Focusing on a significant patient safety factor;
  • Creating a truly IP team of faculty and advisors with a diversity of clinical and teaching experiences;
  • Building a strong project management including administrative, research, technical, instructional design components and resource allocation;
  • Including professional medical interpreters in planning and implementation as members of the IPE team;
  • Developing a faculty advisory group who provided meaningful contributions to design, teaching, and advocating for IPE within their schools.

Within the next several months the final curriculum guide will be ready for publication. We look forward to sharing this with you and to your feedback.

Learn more about the project

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