SPRINGFIELD — Students from Springfield Technical Community College (STCC), Bay Path University, and Western New England University (WNEU) worked together across disciplines recently in their first-ever interprofessional day.
Approximately 80 students from STCC’s nursing program, 80 junior pharmacy students from WNEU, and 25 physician-assistant students from Bay Path participated in the training at STCC’s SIMS Medical Center, the region’s premier patient-simulation facility, where students receive hands-on training in a safe, controlled, and professional environment.
The interprofessional day brought together students from different educational backgrounds who may eventually work together in a professional capacity in a simulated setting to collaborate — something they wouldn’t normally get to do outside of the medical setting.
“Here at STCC, our students in the school of health and patient simulation regularly participate in interprofessional trainings,” said Michael Foss, STCC’s dean of Health and Patient Simulation. “The healthcare industry is rapidly changing, especially with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Before, you had just one doctor; now we have healthcare teams. And while the healthcare industry regularly participates in interprofessional training, formal education for healthcare did not — they were typically siloed.”
Beth Welch, associate dean for Academic Affairs and professor of Pharmacy Practice at WNEU College of Pharmacy, said interprofessional education and training are critical to student preparedness for the healthcare field and collaborative practice.
“Bringing learners together from Bay Path University, STCC, and Western New England University’s College of Pharmacy was an exciting opportunity to work together for a common goal,” she said. “Using STCC’s SIMS Medical Center and WNE’s Community Care Clinic provided a wonderful learning environment for this program to take place. I think the students benefited greatly from this program and look forward to continuing this partnership.”
While this was the first type of training collaboration between students from different area colleges, STCC School of Health and Patient Simulation students representing 12 academic programs regularly participate in simulations and interprofessional trainings.
“Our students are fairly comfortable with simulations,” said interim Chair of Nursing Trish McPeak-LaRocca. “What was new for them was the opportunity to work with these other healthcare professionals specifically — people they would eventually work and collaborate with in their work settings. The interprofessional day created an opportunity for them to practice and understand what they do and how they impact and interact with one another.”
Foss said he hopes other colleges will take advantage of the opportunities available to their students through interprofessional trainings at the SIMS Medical Center as they are given the opportunity to learn from their performance, interact with other professions, and receive immediate feedback from their professors.
“This event allowed us to reach outside of our school to train students, and we were approached to host the event because of the SIMS Medical Center and what we are able to accomplish here,” said Foss. “We have state-of-the-art equipment and an incredible staff.”