Georgia Health Sciences University focuses on more collaboration between professions

Georgia Health Sciences University students are learning that there is no “I” in team.


A new teaching method that stresses collaboration has students from the university’s five colleges integrating their learning. Before graduation, future doctors, nurses, dentists, therapists, physician assistants and others will interact more routinely as part of their education.

The learning style is a response to a 2011 report from six national health profession associations that called for a heightened focus on interprofessional training. Collaboration helps the health care industry provide safer and more efficient patient care, the report says.

GHSU began the first phase of implementing interprofessional training this summer with lessons on communication skills. Future phases will train them for conflict and life-or-death situations.

“The more you communicate, hopefully you’re breaking down barriers and we’re decreasing the possibility of an error,” said Dr. Lori Schumacher Anderson, the associate dean of academic affairs for the GHSU College of Nursing.

On Thursday, a group of students met with professors to discuss characteristics of teamwork before they entered a simulation room to practice a medical scenario. Students were faced with a role-playing patient and his wife who insisted on being discharged.

“Who feels comfortable addressing what? Is it just that the med student is the point person or are they drawing on all their team to assist with what’s being encountered?” Schumacher Anderson said.

Other scenarios include patients who refuse to eat food, resist therapy
exercises or have conflict with family members.

Melinda Cigal, a nursing student, learned that she doesn’t need all the answers to a patient’s questions when she works with a team.

“We can definitely communicate with each other when we have a patient that needs something,” Cigal said.

Dr. Roman Cibirka, GHSU’s vice president for instruction and enrollment management, said interprofessional learning is an innovative teaching method.

“We’re breaking down educational silos and, in the end, creating a more well-rounded comprehensive health professional ready to hit the clinical environment upon graduation with a better education, better equipped to treat the patients of Georgia,” Cibirka said.



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