Nursing and Social Work Join Forces for First Interprofessional Collaboration

The School of Nursing (SON) and the School of Social Work (SSW) teamed up to conduct the first interprofessional Simulation Lab collaboration between the two schools.

Simulation-Lab Coordinator, Robin Cunningham and Associate Professor (SSW), Noell Rowan led the collaboration that consisted of last-semester senior nursing students doing their capstone and graduate-level social work students new to the program.

Split into two two-hour blocks, the simulations emulated the real-life collaboration scenarios of nurses and social workers in the field.

The sessions focused on helping students work with families and clients, some of which came from diverse cultural backgrounds.

The purpose of these collaborations is to prepare students for the work force and to help them learn and appreciate each other's roles since they will be working together in health care settings.

"My hope is that they learn to respect other disciplines," Rowan said, "and see how they can work more collaboratively in the future."

In recent times, interprofessional collaboration has become an increasingly important factor in the work world. The Institute of Medicine reports have mandated that disciplines work together for better communication, better patient outcomes and patient safety.

"We would be doing our students a disservice if we didn't provide interprofessional collaboration," Cunningham said.

The CHHS Simulation Learning Center, with its eight labs, including the Home Care apartment, a clinic and six other Acute Care labs are some of the most state of the art in the country.

The labs are supplied with authentic medical equipment and are fashioned to look like hospitals and clinics in the Southeastern region where students will, most likely, practice.

Standardized patients (patient or client actors) are used in the simulations. The College of Health and Human Services is privileged to have 20 volunteers who were trained as a group by nursing faculty who obtained an internal grant in May of 2013. This is considerable since most colleges have to pay Standardized Patients (SPs) and may not have any volunteers or just a few that require payment to assist them.

Overall, the collaborations were a success. The student's enjoyed the experiences, because the patient/client simulations were realistic, which enhanced learning.
Scenarios ranged from an unruly alcoholic adult client/patient diagnosed with liver disease to a lesbian couple dealing with discrimination surrounding policies and procedures for visitation. There was also an ER scenario involving a patient with chest pain.

The goal for the future is to get more disciplines involved. Possible collaborations include students studying to be actors from the Department of Theatre and multicultural students from the Department of Foreign Languages and Literature.

Another possibility is to get more diverse community volunteers involved. These volunteers consist mostly of retired professionals partnering with faculty who want to contribute to student learning and give back to the college.