Fostering interdisciplinary leadership training project in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities

Meen Lee (SON)

1. What was the inspiration behind this project? I (Dr. Meen Hye Lee) have been involved with ACCESS of Wilmington since October 2017. Access of Wilmington provides recreational programs and partnerships to facilitate inclusive activities for people with disabilities and their families. Being engaged in Access of Wilmington has confirmed my belief and research findings that family caregivers’ unmet needs regarding access to care, daily challenges, and caregiving burden. Caregivers have shown interest in sharing their challenges through interaction with health professionals. To respond to this need, as a nurse investigator, my role is to fill research and education void by defining areas where nursing and other disability-related disciplines can inform one another to respond to the needs of family caregivers of individuals with disabilities. I have reached out to the project members sharing this mission. We have discussed this with our community partner, ACCESS of Wilmington. The community partner and project members have discussed many health professional students often lack general knowledge about neurodevelopmental disability and how to work with individuals and families with. Also, we observed family caregivers’ health and quality of life receive little attention from the healthcare sector. We agreed this may be result of no formal educational program to cultivate interprofessional practice competency. To date, a wide range of disciplines serve in the field of neurodevelopmental disabilities. However, many disciplines studying people with disabilities primarily focus on improving the person with a disability within their disciplines due to many practical matters, such as difficulty of program coordination across disciplines and provision of academic credit. Both the community partner and project members have acknowledged this gap. To fill this gap, we have agreed to be partner to develop a program “Fostering interdisciplinary leadership training project in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities.”

2. Can you describe the project? This project is an interdisciplinary leadership training project for students at UNCW. Students will be recruited undergraduate (junior and senior) and graduate students from the disciplines related to neurodevelopmental disabilities. Students will be assigned to groups representing their disciplines to conduct team-based activities during the project. Several instructional strategies will be applied including didactic teaching, team-based learning, reflective learning, and field trips. In particular, we will have three major community engagement activities including 1) a panel discussion (family caregivers of people with neurodevelopmental disabilities will be invited), 2) Caregiver Awareness Day event involving a health fair for caregivers and interdisciplinary group projects addressing caregivers needs, and 3) a photovoice group project. The photovoice group project will be served as a part of field trips aiming to compel students to view their professional and personal surroundings and increase awareness on daily challenges to health care access, resources of health promotion and community inclusion of people with neurodevelopmental disabilities.

3. What is the purpose? This project aims to develop interprofessional practice education (IPE) program specific to a neurodevelopmental disability for health profession students, in response to the need for an IPE program to prepare students to better care for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families. Interprofessional practice plays a role in the health outcomes for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities.

4. Who all was involved? Four faculties at CHHS are project team members including my self, Drs. Carolyn Jones and Hayley Estrem and Mrs. Patty white from Nursing and Dr. Dan Johnson from Recreation therapy. We collaborate with a community partner, ACCESS of Wilmington.

5. Why is it important? A growing body of literature suggests students engaged in interdisciplinary experiences during their training achieve more core collaborative practice behaviors and enhanced communication skills, and an understanding of other professions. Interprofessional practice plays a role in the health outcomes for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities. In a complex health environment, providers have to be educated and be trained to function as an effective interdisciplinary team member for the care of  individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Yet, there is an absence of interprofessional practice education (IPE) specific to a neurodevelopmental disability and many health profession students lack general knowledge about the disability and how to work with this population. IPE is thought to result in collaborative, coordinated client/family-centered care.

6. How will the project benefit CHHS? By training future health profession students at CHHS through this project, they will be more competent to provide culturally sensitive care and family-centered care for individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families. This will produce competent health professionals and improve care to individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities. This project will also strengthen community partnership with Access of Wilmington.

7. What is the timeline for the project? The project will take 16 weeks including preparation phase. We plan to open the program to students in the 3rd week of February 2019 and it will be ended in the final week of April 2019. Registered students are expected to participate in 10 weeks throughout Spring 2019 semester. Certificates and participation rewards will be given to students who will be completing the program.

8. What is the desired outcome? This project will produce outcomes in two-fold. Student Learning outcomes are to develop knowledge and skills related to interdisciplinary collaboration in the care of individuals with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their family members. Students will also learn to  assess the need of client/family-centered care that addresses their unique psychosocial, social and cultural needs. For faculty learning outcomes are research output and needs assessment for future research. We will evaluate the feasibility of photovoice as a pedagogy tool in interprofessional practice education. We will also explore unmet needs of a community partner and individuals of neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families.