In Pharmacy and among the other professional faculties at U of T, there is a requirement to attend Interprofessional Education (IPE) activities throughout our studies. These activities provide exposure of what it’s like to work on an inter-disciplinary team, which is ultimately how it will be like in the workforce. Healthcare requires several people with a key set of skills that are important in providing care to patients. We have to take part in these activities and earn a certain number of IPE credits before we graduate. Recently, I completed my IPE credits and I found my last IPE experience quite eye-opening.
The activity that I took part in was a case-based discussion in the palliative care setting. In my group, there were students from various professions such as nursing, speech language pathology, medicine, social work and occupational therapy. We were presented with a case of a patient suffering from terminal cancer with desires to continue his treatment in the comfort from his home. It soon became apparent through our discussion that in order to fulfill our patient’s wishes this required the insight from a variety of professions. From my perspective, I would only be able to assist in ensuring the patients’ medications were appropriate and that his pain is properly managed. However, this only accounts for a fraction of the patient experience. The patient will need assistance in finding resources to help care for him at home – this would require the skills of a social worker. In addition, he may difficulty getting up and out of bed which would require the skills of a nurse. The patient may also have difficulty swallowing or speaking which calls upon the knowledge of a speech language pathologist. It was great to see in the discussion how each profession plays an important role in patient care.
Although this experience is specific to the healthcare setting, this idea can also be expanded in other workplaces or group work. It’s important to acknowledge and appreciate the skills that are colleagues have because this will ultimately provide superior outcomes!