Interprofessional Course Featured in University Gazette

An elective course taught by SON clinical professor Carol Durham and her collaborators clinical assistant professor Kelly Scolaro from the Eshelman School of Pharmacy and assistant professor Benny Joyner from the School of Medicine was featured in this week’s issue of the University Gazette. The course, “Interprofessional Teamwork and Communication: Keys to Patient Safety,” is unique because it brings students together from all three schools to work on medical simulation exercises.

“It’s important that these students understand the prevalence of medical and health-care errors and that they have to be part of the solution,” Dr. Durham, EdD, RN, ANEF, FAAN, said in the article. ” Most of them will work in situations where they have someone from the other professions on their team, and it makes sense to have them rehearse that.”

Students learn teamwork strategies by conducting simulations with human patient simulators. They learn how their roles as physicians, nurses, and pharmacists complement each other when addressing medical issues. Students also learn when it might be appropriate for a nurse or pharmacist, who are not typically considered team leaders, to speak up and take the lead in caring for patients.

Dr. Joyner, MD, MPH, described a communication technique in the article called CUS words. CUS stands for “I am Concerned, I am Uncomfortable, and I feel it is a Safety issue.” Dr. Joyner said that teaching students to use CUS words when communicating problems removes blame and gives students confidence to prevent medical errors.

“Students don’t necessarily want to speak out to the attending physician or pharmacist, or the charge nurse or preceptor, when they feel that they see something wrong,” Dr. Scolaro, PharmD, said in the article. “This [training] is giving students a voice that I don’t think they realize they had.”

The Carolina course is based on national accreditation standards and elements of TeamSTEPPS, an evidence-based teamwork system for healthcare professionals. The course has been offered for four years, which predates the creation of core competencies for interprofessional collaborative practice. “We’re ahead of the game,” said Dr. Scolaro.

All of the instructors emphasized that what they wanted students to get out of the class was a sense that the burden of healthcare doesn’t just rest on the shoulders of one care provider. There advantages to sharing that burden both for healthcare providers and for patients.

To read more about the course, see the full article on the University Gazette website.