EDUCATION. Right now, the preparations are under way for the first Academy-wide Day for Sahlgrenska Academy’s new students. February 9, 2016 is reserved for an Academy-wide Day to provide inspiration over program boundaries, with the theme of human rights and the right to health. Planning is being coordinated by Lena Oxelmark, Chair of the Committee for Interprofessional Learning (IPL) at Sahlgrenska Academy.
Recently admitted students at all of the five programs that accept admissions in the spring semester will participate in the very first Academy-wide Day in February. The topic, human rights, is highly current in light of the large streams of refugees, and sheds light on a significant approach for all students at Sahlgrenska Academy.
“Human rights and the right to health form one of the linchpins for all of our programs and are very well suited as a theme for a shared day for all of our new students. Our idea is for the topic to also be followed up later within the respective programs,” says Silvana Naredi, Vice-Dean for Education.
Leading up to the Academy-wide Day, the students will be provided with materials to read up on human rights and the right to health. On February 9, a total of 340 students will be gathered in the Draken lecture hall for inspiring lectures on the day’s theme. Planning of the program is still under way, but it has already been decided that Richard Horton, Editor-in-Chief of the journal, The Lancet, and an Honorary Doctor at Sahlgrenska Academy, will be one of the speakers.
Workshops will follow in the afternoon in mixed groups with students from various educational programs. The group discussions will be held both at Medicinareberget and Hälsovetarbacken.
“We will have signs, banners, teachers and students who show the way so that everyone will find their group room,” says Lena Oxelmark, Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Health and Care Sciences and appointed by the Education Council to Chair the IPL Committee.
The Academy-wide Day involves many employees at Sahlgrenska Academy, including all of the members of the IPL Committee. Elisabet Lönnermark, who is the Professional Development Manager for human rights and gender in the medical program, and Birgit Reizer, Administrative Aid, are making important contributions. More than 40 teachers have also attended a special course in human rights to be able to serve as supervisors for the mixed student groups. The next Academy-wide Day, which will be held on September 22, 2016, will cover all programs at Sahlgrenska Academy and will thereby involve significantly more students. Then the arrangers hope that a total of 70 teachers will have attended the supervisor course.
More meetings across program lines
Interprofessional learning is the learning that arises through interaction between members of two or more professions and inspires future team collaboration. Lena Oxelmark believes that there is an important point in letting the students meet across the program lines after just a few weeks into their new programs:
“Research shows that opportunities to get to know other professional categories early on in one’s education lay the foundation for better cooperation with other professional categories, which in turn can lead to better communication, fewer risks of misunderstandings, and thereby greater patient safety.”
IPL has been a focus of the educational development at Sahlgrenska Academy in recent years. In its evaluation of the medical program, the Swedish Higher Education Authority criticized the lack of team collaboration, and Sahlgrenska Academy has since introduced several new course components to increase collaboration between students in different programs, including a mandatory component at the Simulator Center West at Östra Hospital, where medical and nursing students jointly practice the care of an acutely ill patient in a realistic environment. The IPL simulation component was initially an educational research and development project that has now been implemented.
IPL for all programs
As the Chair of the IPL Committee, Lena Oxelmark has a three-year mission to increase interprofessional learning between all programs at Sahlgrenska Academy. The Committee includes representatives for all educational programs. Together with colleagues in the medical program, she recently conducted an educational project herself, where medical and nursing students held joint team training around patients at a ward.
Such team training already takes place in a three-credit course component for prospective nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, dieticians, social workers and sometimes also speech therapists.
“Students have been requesting that medical students should also be involved, and in our project, we included nursing students at the same surgical ward where medical students were placed. The students met at the ward where they conducted team training with joint student rounds and reflected on team work and differences between different professions,” says Lena Oxelmark.
The various programs have different conditions, and Lena Oxelmark confirms that there were logistical difficulties, and also that the students in the project requested collaboration with the other professions. The project turned out well nonetheless:
“Before the project, there were concerns that the medical students would learn less about surgery than their classmates, but the evaluation showed the opposite – the students enriched each other’s profession and found it valuable to independently discuss treatments and plan the care of patients with somebody at the same level, i.e. somebody who was also a student.”
Flexibility can provide more IPL
In the project, they could see that the interprofessional training provided greater insight into and perspectives of the other profession’s knowledge and tasks. The students learned from, about and with each other. They also provided each other affirmation by also giving feedback on how they spoke with and interacted with the patients.
For a large program like the medical program, which is provided by four different institutions, it seems difficult to introduce a new two-week component, according to Lena Oxelmark, but she still sees a possibility of including medical students in this IPL component through a student-centered and flexible approach:
“I think the students themselves can take considerable responsibility for their own interprofessional learning. For example, this could be introduced as one or more compulsory components that the student can complete when it fits in during clinical training; it does not necessarily need to affect other components.”
The project was conducted with educational development funding from the Education Council.
The IPL Committee at Sahlgrenska Academy consists of:
Lena Oxelmark (Chair), Lars Börjesson, Kajsa Eklund, Christina Finsbäck, Camilla Hesse, Simon Ivarsson (student representative), Karin Johansson, Tove Lagerberg, Jessica Skoogh Ericsson, Frode Slinde, Helle Wijk, Michael Winder, samt Birgit Reizer (administrative support).