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Nursing students’ education should never occur in a vacuum. Because most nurses will work not only with patients throughout their careers, but also with varied health care professionals, it’s important for them to learn how to work with others even before they begin their employment. This is where interprofessional education comes into play.

In Part 2 of our interview, Judith Haber and Erin Hartnett of NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing continue our conversation about why it’s so important for nursing students. (Revisit Part 1 of our interview here.)

This year, the study was on oral-systemic health. But have the students studied other health care issues in previous years? Why or why not? How are the issues chosen?

Judi Haber: NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing and the OHNEP and TOSH programs have been at the vanguard of changing the national landscape about the importance of integrating oral health as an essential component of overall health. This priority addressed a national “Call to Action” by the Surgeon General in 2000 to address the gap in meeting the oral health care needs of the American public and to consider the relationship of oral health to overall health. Our programs have made a significant impact by “putting the mouth back in the head” in nursing education and clinical practice. 

Oral health and its links to overall health is our OHNEP and TOSH priority.  Because of the connections between oral health and numerous systemic health conditions like diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney disease, cancer, dementia, autoimmune conditions, and others, students are exposed to a wide variety of acute and chronic health problems. This provides a perfect platform to for interprofessional learning because it requires the clinical knowledge and expertise of multiple professions to create a care plan that is patient-centered and addresses the needs of the whole person. We have designed and implemented interprofessional clinical experiences across the lifespan that address the oral-systemic needs of each population: prenatal, pediatric, adult, and older adult.

What were the results from this interprofessional educational experience?

Judi Haber: We evaluate our interprofessional experiences using the Interprofessional Competencies Attainment Scale (ICCAS) before and after each experience. Our evidence shows a significant change in student self-reported interprofessional competencies from pre- to post-test across the professions.

What did the nurses learn from working with students in other disciplines?

Haber and Hartnett: Students from all four disciplines — Nursing, Medicine, Dentistry, and Pharmacy — felt that TOSH was a positive experience as evidenced from some of their comments.

“It was mostly actually us teaching each other. The facilitator was there if we had any questions, but she kind of popped in and out and just sort of listened, and let us sort of take the reins which was good.”
Shoshana Gindi, NYU Adult-Geriatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Student

“Usually at Long Island University, we’re with pharmacy students only, so this allowed us to basically see other professions and their points of views when it comes to assessing patients.”
Nada Annr, LIU Pharmacy Student

“It was kind of cool to see the role reversal when we got to the part where we were talking about the patient management because we got to learn more about the medications, the medical conditions, how those are managed, and kind of what their focus was versus ours and how those come together.”
Charlotte Guerrera, NYU Dental Student

“It’s good to really get another perspective from other specialties. The dentists will specifically ask about oral questions; a medical student will ask complete body questions. We can learn how to approach patients in a broader way.”
Brandon Oks, NYU Medical Student

“More and more in today’s world, we’re working with the other disciplines in the health care setting. We’re also learning the background of other people’s specialties: what their schooling looks like and what their clinical work looks like. I think that really helps, especially in the nursing field and nurse practitioners making a name for themselves. I think it helps to kind of normalize the battlefield in a sense and give everybody an understanding of what our education looks like.”
RoseMarie Cafone, NYU Psych-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner Student

“I have sort of a general idea of what the different professions do, but I really didn’t have any sort of deeper understanding of everything that they bring to the table. I think when we were interviewing the patient, just hearing the kinds of questions that they were asking–what they were focused on–was really helpful in understanding how they’re approaching a patient. And then we were all sitting around a table hearing what they were most concerned about really illustrated for me what each profession is really bringing to that conversation.”
Elana Kreiger-Benson, NYU Medical Student

“We talked about, ‘Would this be valuable in the real world?’ And we all agreed, yes, because especially today in our world with health care changing, it’s even harder to communicate, and communication’s a big problem. Hopefully there’s more trainings like this to help give better communication among all the different health care professions.”
Stephanie Fanelli, NYU Dental Student

“I don’t usually get to interact with dentistry students, so that part was amazing. Being able to see how a dentistry student or a pharmacist would be able to approach an issue with the patient’s mouth was helpful, and being able to make a plan for this patient and create an interdisciplinary team approach to caring for this patient was great.”
Megan Fendt, NYU Midwifery Student

 “A couple more of these a year would be beneficial.”
Brandon Oks, NYU Medical Student

What else is important for our readers to know about interprofessional education?

Erin Hartnett: The Oral Health Nursing Education and Practice Program (OHNEP), an innovative national initiative led by Executive Director Judith Haber, and Program Director Erin Hartnett has just been designated as a 2019 Edge Runner from the American Academy of Nursing. This initiative recognizes those individuals and organizations who are leaders in designing models of care and interventions to improve health care cost and access. OHNEP [received] this award on October 24, 2019, for its leadership in “putting the mouth back in the head” in nursing education and clinical practice, improving clinical outcomes, and making positive contributions to the financial health of organizations.

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Michele Wojciechowski

Michele Wojciechowski is an award-winning writer and author of the humor book Next Time I Move, They’ll Carry Me Out in a Box.

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