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Dr. Carol Motley, associate professor of family medicine at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine, recently presented a poster at the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine annual conference with Dr. Jennifer Styron, assistant professor of community and mental health at USA, and Dr. Robin Risling-de Jong, assistant professor of physician assistant (PA) studies at USA.
The poster presentation, titled “Collaborating with the Wellness Homeless Center to Develop a Multidisciplinary Educational Experience,” showcased the efforts of the family medicine department at USA, which participated in a program focused on developing inter-professional care for patients at a local homeless shelter in Mobile, Ala. Those who participated in the program for a year were later recognized as inter-professional fellows in a ceremony coordinated through an inter-professional collaborative practice initiative started by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to the College of Nursing.
The inter-professional program involved medical, PA and nursing students working within teams to make a greater impact on patient outcomes, as well as team-based learning exercises to encourage open communication among medical professionals who may feel that barriers such as professional hierarchy affect how they work with one another.
“We tend to be fairly isolated among our certain professional groups. In the future -- with the way things are moving -- we will work in teams,” Dr. Motley said. “To be able to work side-by-side, knowing what the other person does will facilitate better teamwork in the future, which will ultimately improve patient outcomes.”
During the program, students worked together to excel in responsibilities and roles that the core competencies of inter-professional practice teach. Those core competencies include inter-professional communication, values, ethics and teamwork.
Students participating in the program found that they were able to better appreciate diversity in the community, while they also gained better respect for their fellow medical professionals.
“One of the interesting things students said several times was that they learned how to not talk over one another but instead to listen and communicate with respect,” Dr. Motley said.
Dr. Motley hopes to bring more inter-professional programs to the USA College of Medicine in the future. “There are some ongoing things happening between the nursing school and the PA program, and we were proud to teach teamwork and respect to the students,” she said.
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