When students in different majors get together, they learn a lot about, from and with each other.

On a weekday morning in the Clinical Simulation Laboratory, students are working together to assess and treat a distraught man who fell at home and cannot stand or swallow solid food. The patient — role-played by an actor for the simulation — suffers from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a fatal disease, and his symptoms are progressing. The students— future nurses, physical therapists, nutritionists, social workers and speech-language pathologists — share their expertise and ask each other for advice, working as a team to interview the man and collectively plan an intervention, which they present to the man and his wife, who is also role-played by an actor.

Simulations like this are part of many courses at CNHS, in which students role-play caring for patients in a team setting. The students consider the impacts of illness on the patient-caregiver relationship while interacting and planning interventions with actors (formally called standardized patients) who represent patients and their family members. The scenarios emphasize that patients and families are recognized as members of the interprofessional health care team.

“Different professions have different ways of working, different cultures and language. We create opportunities not just to see a team in action, but to collaborate with each other,” said nursing professor Mary Val Palumbo, director of Interprofessional Education for CNHS.

Students and faculty will participate in the College of Nursing and Health Sciences’ third annual Interprofessional Education Conference on September 13, The event includes expert panels and round table conversations exploring the unique contributions of each health science discipline to interprofessional care for patients, their families and communities. For details, contact Christina.Adamczak@med.uvm.edu.


Janet Lynn Essman Franz
At the Interprofessional Education Conference, students in various majors will explore each other's disciplines and the impact of Interprofessional health care.