A Reflection on Pain Week!

For many years, students in professional faculties (Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Nursing, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Physician Assistant), typically in their second year, are required to participate in “Pain Week”. Pain Week was developed in order to foster interprofessional collaboration in an area of healthcare that is one of the most challenging to provide treatment. Pain management is not a “one size fits all” approach. It has to be tailored to the patient as each person’s lived experience with pain will be different. Consequently, this requires the expertise of various healthcare professionals to ensure all aspects of the patient’s pain is managed. It was through this week that I acquired a new found appreciation for how true this is.

The week integrated various styles of teaching and learning. It started off with a didactic lecture to introduce the concept of “pain”. One of the lectures featured real patients commenting on their experiences with chronic pain. It was here that I grew an appreciation for how important proper pain management is as it can have a profound impact in one’s life.

Students working in interprofessional groups to solve patient cases at Pain Week!
Students working in interprofessional groups to solve patient cases at Pain Week!

Along with didactic lectures, perhaps the most valuable component of the week was the group case work. Students across all the professional faculties were divided into groups. In our group we would work together to assess cases that require proper pain management. The cases were complicated as these patients were multi-faceted. Not only were their pain improperly managed by drugs but they also exhibited functional incompatibilities (e.g. unable to walk for long distances) and social limitations (e.g. unable to work). It was in these situations where the appreciation for the other faculties was noted. For instance, the physical and occupational therapy students were instrumental in finding ways to manage the functional limitations. Despite the fact that we were strangers prior to this week, we were able to come together and use our own specialized knowledge to provide optimal pain management for our patient.

Pain Week was a valuable experience and will definitely be helpful in treating patients in the future!

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