Interprofessional Coaches: Facilitating Transformational Learning

Sunday, 29 October 2017: 3:25 PM

Jennifer Evans, DNP
Jody Delp, MEd
Mary Rock, JD
College of Nursing and Health Professions, University of Southern Indiana, Evansville, IN, USA

Background/significance: Students often learn about teamwork dynamics in the classroom, however, involving them in an interprofessional (IP) clinical practice allows them to gain experience reinforcing collaborative practice behaviors. The interprofessional coach (IPC) role was created to support students and inspire positive team dynamics and effective IP behaviors. Facilitating teamwork behaviors within IP student healthcare clinical teams requires skills beyond basic teaching strategies. Specific key interactions between coaches and students promotes a safe environment for open exchange of knowledge, mutual support and respect among the interprofessional team members.

Teaching Innovation: IPCs from nursing, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, and social work faculty were identified. The IPCs were trained using the TeamSTEPPS® framework. Each coach was assigned to an IP team including students from the undergraduate and graduate nursing, occupational therapy, respiratory therapy, nutrition, and masters of social work programs. The IPC provided specific information to help students understand the expectations, provided necessary instructions, and answered questions. The IPC used active discussion to engage students and elicit purposeful deliberation among the healthcare student team. The overarching goal was to encourage student driven interactions among the team and with patients during their visit. Eliciting student engagement required the IPC to direct the team from the sideline so the team can collaborate and move towards independence. The IPC acted as a role model by directing profession specific questions to the appropriate healthcare student, which helped to breakdown traditional hierarchical barriers. Reflection was used to evaluate the plan of care developed by the interprofessional healthcare student team through active collaboration and mutual goal setting.

Outcomes: The coaches discovered that facilitating teamwork required skill beyond those used in traditional classroom teaching. While coaches gave initial instructions and direction, they encouraged students to rely on other team members to answer questions about patients rather than depending on faculty. Students shared their specific professional knowledge to help the team prioritize patient needs and develop an interprofessional care plan. The IP teams collaborated to determine appropriate patient centered care plan goals, determine applicable interventions and identify needed resources. Students reported an improved level of comfort in reaching out to other healthcare providers after their interprofessional clinical experiences. Additionally, students felt the patients appeared more comfortable and appreciative of the holistic interprofessional comprehensive approach when addressing their healthcare needs.

Implications: Providing students with an opportunity to collaborate as an interprofessional team enhances their comfort and skills. The intent is for students to carry these enhanced skills into practice and provide holistic comprehensive healthcare that ultimately improves patient outcomes. Traditional teaching strategies are not effective for the desired transformational learning. Facilitating IP activities involves deliberate and specific methodology. The IPC is responsible for transforming students’ beliefs and behaviors to those supporting a safe, effective and collaborative healthcare practice. Therefore, a deliberate method for effectively preparing IPCs to lead IP activities is critical. The proposed model is a replicable method for preparing the IPCs to create a comfortable environment for students to gain hands on experiences. It is essential that IPCs provide appropriate direction while inspiring the IP healthcare student team to be independent. This is accomplished through specific IPC interactions that encourage students to collaborate, gain mutual respect, share professional specific knowledge, and identify common patient centered goals. During these interactions, student perceptions are expected to change and become less profession centric. The overall experience is designed to enhance teamwork behaviors associated with improved patient outcomes.