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Josh Leitão, PharmD and Laurianne Murphy, Physician Assistant Studies.

Interprofessional Education Book Club Experience a Virtual Success

  • Medical experts know that collaboration in healthcare is essential to quality care and positive health outcomes. Treating the whole patient requires specialists across different fields to share knowledge, form a team, and work together. This collaborative approach is known as interprofessional healthcare. With students in over 100 programs studying alongside one another, MCPHS engages in interprofessional education (IPE) every day. Nursing students might learn from pharmacy students; physical therapy students might learn from acupuncture students. Collaboration and interdisciplinary learning is a key part of the MCPHS experience.

    April is national Interprofessional Healthcare Month—and it comes this year at a time when cooperation among medical experts is more important ever. So rather than let current circumstances cancel the MCPHS IPE Book Club Experience, 460 students from five programs—PharmD, Physical Therapy, Diagnostic Medical Sonography, Acupuncture, and Physician's Assistant—participated in a virtual, asynchronous learning experience between March 26 and April 10, 2020. This involved 51 total interprofessional groups, with nine students in each group. The experience focused on discussions from the text The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman. The book tells the story of a Laotian refugee child diagnosed with severe epilepsy, and the lack of cultural understanding and communication that impacts her healthcare in America. The book certainly had an impact on the students.

    Laurianne Murphy, a candidate for Master of Physician Assistant Studies, says that reading and discussing the book showed her "how important effective communication and understanding of cultural differences is to practicing medicine. The book club experience just reiterated how important it is to be on the same page as a healthcare team as well as a patient-provider team."

    Bryan Franciosi, Candidate for Doctor of Physical Therapy, says, "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down showed me the importance of being culturally competent and considering patient values when treating individuals. Discussing it in the IPE book club was a great way to get an appreciation for the different roles that various healthcare providers can have in treating a patient, and how working together as a team with the patient at the center of it all is crucial to ensure a positive outcome."

    Josh Leitão, PharmD Candidate, connected the story's theme of cultural awareness to the global nature of the current coronavirus pandemic. With a virus that doesn't discriminate "cultural awareness is critically important now," he says. A successful response very much depends on interprofessionalism, as people all over the world need to work together to fight the virus.

    The IPE Book Club Experience is just one of many curricular and extracurricular activities emphasizing interprofessional education at MCPHS. Learn more here about the role of IPE in preparing our future healthcare leaders.