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IPE Day Event Goes Virtual, Focuses on Opioid Crisis

  • Interprofessional education, or IPE, is a vital part of preparing future healthcare leaders. Team-based patient care is the future of healthcare, and MCPHS stresses collaboration across disciplines as a core value in its programs of study. Each year, IPE Day brings together students from various disciplines together for an event filled with discussion, learning activities, presentations, and more. This year, a full 797 students from all nine programs across the MCPHS Worcester and Manchester campuses participated in a virtual IPE Day event.

    A core group transitioned the event to a virtual platform for this year. The virtual activity ran from June 1–21 via an organization site on Blackboard. Students could complete activities at their own pace within that time. The theme was substance use disorder and, more specifically, the opioid crisis. Students watched a recorded interview with a person in recovery conducted by two MCPHS faculty members; in it, the guest discussed his personal experience with substance use disorder and recovery. Hearing a first-person story hit home.

    “This is a real human being,” said JoHannah Macbeth, a first-year acupuncture student. “It’s not just a case we’re looking at on paper.” As part of the event, students also completed an online Narcan (naloxone) training experience and received a certificate upon completion of the training—“a good time investment,” says Macbeth.

    The core activity involved interprofessional discussion groups, each composed of students from a variety of disciplines. The students met virtually and collaborated on a substance use disorder case scenario. This meeting was recorded and then reviewed by a faculty facilitator. Thirty-five facilitators reviewed the 133 group case discussions.

    Macbeth was pleased that her acupuncture expertise enlightened her peers on pain management for substance use disorder patients. Meanwhile, Katherine Visich BSN ‘21 says she was unsure at first how a virtual event would pan out but was delighted with how it went:

    "Luckily, our group was so engaged and interested in this topic, and having members from different areas of healthcare gave unique perspectives. I ended up asking our pharmacy member about what typical prescriptions looked like, and he gave a great mini lesson on what it meant to be ‘opiate naïve,’ which I had not heard about yet in my studies as a Nursing student. Likewise, our PA member and I talked about how we would assess this patient and what steps we would take."

    Victoria Plourde MSOT ‘21 also found the team-based approach valuable. “As occupational therapists,” she says, “we must consider prevention and interventions that will help our clients participate in daily activities while preventing the misuse of opioids to manage pain. These efforts can include providing education and strategies to address mental health disorders, medication management, and pain management techniques,” which made working with group members studying those fields a powerful learning experience.

    Macbeth says that the focus on IPE is one of the things that drew her to MCPHS in the first place and that she looks forward to more IPE programming in the future.

    “Integration with other medical professionals is essential in order to take care of the patient,” she says. “In order to change medical fields in the future, we need to start collaboration as students.”