In the summer of 2012, with the vision, inspiration and support of Dr. Peggy Wisdom and the Wisdom Family Foundation, a small group of faculty began a year-long process of developing an interprofessional education program on the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (HSC) campus.
During academic year 2013-2014, 18 faculty and 76 students from 7 colleges and 13 disciplines completed the EPIC program. This curriculum required completion of four, 4 hour active learning sessions in the fall of 2013 and four, 4 hour clinic sessions in the spring of 2014. The curriculum for the EPIC project was designed around 4 core topics related to healthcare professional teams – Roles and Responsibilities, Ethics and Values, Communication, and Teamwork. These topics were aligned with the Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice, as outlined in the May 2011 report of the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC).
Our EPIC teams were first involved in patient care at the Good Shepherd Charitable Clinic in downtown Oklahoma City during the spring semester of 2014. A total of 16 clinic sessions occurred on Thursday evenings with a total of 29 patients receiving longitudinal care delivered by an interprofessional team of 9-10 students. Approximately 6 patients per team were managed throughout the spring semester. Patients were chosen for the project based on complexity of their healthcare needs. During the initial visit, healthcare teams collaborated with each patient to determine problem lists of medical issues to be addressed at each appointment and developed goals for the patient’s health. At the final clinic session, students reviewed the progress made toward each goal. Significant improvements in health parameters were noted. We are currently evaluating the data to determine the progress made towards health goals. This will be used to further refine the upcoming clinical phase of the EPIC project.
Current Clinical Experience
In 2017-2018 there were 76 OU students from 14 different academic programs across seven colleges who participated in the EPIC Interprofessional Clinical Experience. Teams completed a four-hour didactic session, a four-hour simulation session, and 16 clinical contact hours to provide direct-patient care. Patients with complex needs were chosen to participate in the program, with some returning for follow-up care with the same team throughout the experience.
The following statements are examples of feedback provided by past students regarding the EPIC clinic and their experience:
- The interprofessional camaraderie and respect that was ignited from this experience helped with a very well-rounded diagnosis and treatment of the patient.
- One decision our team made that had the biggest impact on our team's process of providing care was the decision to have respect for the knowledge each person brought to the table.
- The team used each members professional knowledge. The pharmacy student was able to guide medication selection, the medical students determined which labs to order and assessments were important, dental students made assessments and referrals, and the social work student provided social support options and community resources, and the administration student provided guidance for clinical flow and prioritization of care.
- One of our team members does not deal with much medical terminology. If there was something said that she did not understand she felt comfortable enough to ask what it meant and it was explained.
- The social worker in our group really did an incredible job of discovering concerns that many of the rest of us had not even thought of. She also got to know the patient's daily life and routine a little better. After sharing this information with the rest of the team, we were really able to tailor our care and prioritize our interventions so that the client was able to have access and financially commit to the interventions.
- The simulated patient experience in particular, where the rest of the team could observe each other team member practicing their craft, and discovering the breadth and impact of their expertise, opened the whole team's eyes, I believe, to how useful each member could be in the treatment of a patient.
- When discussing care for the patient, we would discuss the approach each member could take in regards to caring for the patient and incorporate them to form a multi-faceted treatment plan rather than purely medical, social, or physical.
Responses to the question, "What surprised you most during the EPIC process?"
- The levels of creativity all members bring and ability to unmask/solve problems not previously identified.
- It is difficult to get people with different backgrounds to work together.
- Everyone in the group has important, valuable knowledge to contribute. Listening is very important to make sure details are heard.
- Process of students communicating with each other. How certain professions always gave debriefing, might be interesting to see other disciplines giving overview of concerns.
- Giving and receiving feedback.
- Learning the dynamics between disciplines.
- I learned that different disciplines overlap but can easily work together.
- Learning to let go of stereotypes.
- Social work is very, very helpful!
Responses to the question, "What is the most powerful thing you discovered working on your EPIC team?"
- Just how complicated health problems can be.
- How much knowledge each team member had.
- All professions are important.
- Realizing the power of the relationship.
- We can be so much more effective as a team.