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Largest ever interprofessional training event for health sciences students a success


For immediate release
Date:    June 24, 2010

SEATTLE – According to a 2007 study by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, teamwork breakdowns, such as lack of supervision and patient hand-off problems, account for 70 percent of errors by medical trainees.

For the first time ever the UW’s schools of medicine, nursing, and pharmacy have partnered in the simulation lab to improve patient safety and communication concerns.

Held at Harborview Medical Center at UW Medicine’s Institute for Simulation and Interprofessional Studies (ISIS), 49 students from the Schools of Nursing, Pharmacy, Medicine, and Medex program ran clinical scenarios as part of an Interprofessional team, providing experience in both clinical skills and practice as well as team communication last week. The project is funded by a three-year, $990,000 grant from the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation and a $250,000 grant from the Hearst Foundation.

“Working with other medical disciplines made the simulation more realistic and at several points during the simulation it felt real,” said Ken Sheil, a physician assistant student. “The simulation allowed us to interact as if we were all licensed and working. I feel more of this type of training prior to our clinical year and during our clinical year would be beneficial.”

This was the first time students from these disciplines have collaborated in a simulated clinical setting. Students in most health care disciplines train separately, despite the fact that the very colleagues they’ll later work with are learning about the same conditions just a building or two away.

After each simulated exercise, the interdisciplinary teams met to breakdown the clinical issues encountered during the training as well as debrief and discuss the effectiveness of the team’s communication. By far, the overall student experience was most significantly impacted by the opportunity to work with other disciplines and practice in a clinical setting. “We should so this every week,” said Jeanette Kelly, a medical student who led a team through the SVT scenario.

The interprofessional skills training was the largest event ever run between the different disciplines and schools.

Getting medical, nursing, physician assistant, and pharmacy students excited about the idea of working together as a team, and breaking down hierarchal barriers, establishes a baseline of respect and helps develop good communication patterns and a team approach to health care that will stay with the professionals throughout their career.

A group of 20 interprofessional students worked with faculty to develop clinical scenarios for the mock clinical situations last year. The program was part of the weeklong capstone program in the school of medicine which was created to refresh the skills medical students need as they transition to “second-year” and residency students. Courses include various elective skill sessions (intubation, IV placement, basic airway management, and many others).

The interprofessional skills project team included: Brenda Zierler, School of Nursing (PI); Brian Ross, School of Medicine (co-PI); Doug Brock, Tom Gallagher, Grace Landel, Karen McDonough, all from the School of Medicine; Sara Kim, School of Dentistry & School of Medicine; Nanci Murphy and Peggy Odegard, School of Pharmacy; and Sarah Shannon and Diana Taibi, School of Nursing.


The University of Washington School of Nursing is consistently the nation’s No. 1-ranked nursing school, according to U.S. News & World Report. Ranked No. 3 in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the UW School of Nursing is a national and international leader in improving the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. The school addresses society’s most pressing challenges in health care through innovative teaching, award winning research and community service.