News and Commentary Macy Faculty Scholar Bridget O’Brien on Advancing the Field of Interprofessional Education

Bridget O’Brien, PhD, of the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, discusses how she is using theory to inform interprofessional clinical practice.

What are you working on as a Macy Faculty Scholar and why is it needed?
I am developing teaching materials and resources that health professionals can use to better engage in interprofessional, team-based care. Currently, I am analyzing videos in which students and experienced practitioners from multiple professions work together to evaluate and develop a plan of care for an elderly patient. These videos provide a fascinating glimpse into the complex interactions that occur every day as professionals with different perspectives and expertise try their best to work together to deliver quality care to patients. While there are many things the professionals in these videos do well, there are also clear opportunities for improvement. We have seen many examples of professionals missing chances to listen to, learn from and educate one another, and to explore and respect diverse perspectives.

Part of my project involves selecting some of these illustrative interactions and developing them into scenarios and video clips that can be used for faculty development. I firmly believe that education plays a key role in improving collaboration and coordination among health professionals and that such efforts are essential for achieving a safer, more efficient and more effective health care system for all Americans.

Can you explain more about the materials you are creating and your plans for implementation and dissemination?
I am part of an interprofessional team that has designed and delivered a series of faculty development workshops at UCSF. These workshops are part of a new Interprofessional Education teaching certificate offered by the university. One of the workshops called “The Teachable Moment in IPE” draws heavily on my Macy Faculty Scholar work. We use video clips of challenging interprofessional interactions to engage participants in real-time responses. As they watch the video clips, participants identify “teachable moments” and decide whether or not to directly intervene and what skills to use in the moment and/or in a follow up debrief (e.g., teaching, coaching, conflict negotiation, role modeling, or feedback). The workshop was very well received this spring at UCSF; it was fun for facilitators and participants alike, and generated lots of great discussion and strategies. We also ran the workshop at the Collaboration Across Borders V conference in Roanoke, VA and look forward to additional opportunities within and beyond UCSF.

In addition to the workshop and the video clips, I am creating guidelines that educators can use to design and improve simulated and workplace-based interprofessional learning activities. They highlight important considerations such as space, case complexity, desired learning outcomes, access to technology and resources, level and type of learner, interaction with patients, and amount of structure and guidance provided during the activity.

What are your ultimate goals for your project?
Through my project, I hope to facilitate conversations among faculty and students that ultimately lead to greater collaboration across health professions. Every perspective matters in health care, and I hope the resources I create will help individuals on interprofessional teams learn to negotiate roles and achieve a shared understanding of complex situations. It is remarkable to see how much better the quality of care can be when the team works well together! Similarly, in education, the quality of interprofessional learning activities can be so much better when faculty have a shared understanding of what they are trying to achieve through interprofessional education and a common set of skills to facilitate learning through interprofessional activities.

Do you have anything else you’d like to share?
The Macy Faculty Scholars program is an incredible experience and a wonderful opportunity for me to fully invest my time and energy into a project, and ultimately a larger vision, that I am passionate about! Through the program, I have developed skills in key areas that support my goals and connected with an amazing group of individuals who have opened my eyes to so many new ideas and perspectives.

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