Medical, nursing schools need to work together

Medical and nursing schools should collaborate and evolve their curricula to promote team-based care, according to stakeholders at a summit sponsored by the New England Healthcare Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“We need a revolution in the way we train our future providers,” said Erin Mann, health policy associate at the New England Healthcare Institute (NEHI). Nursing and medical schools must work together to embed long-term changes within education, she said. The summit addressed how to remove the barriers and ensure that transformation occurs.

Mann pointed out that medical and nursing schools are on different calendars. By aligning their schedules, schools can offer shared classes and faculty members can team teach and serve as role models for change, she said.

The summit also highlighted various programs around the country that can serve as models for other medical and nursing schools, including St. Louis University, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Colorado at Denver.

St. Louis University established a Center for Interprofessional Education and Research that oversees activities for collaborative practice among healthcare providers.

“You need to have administrative leadership within a school to show your commitment,” said Brian Schuetz, program director at NEHI.

The University of Colorado has been known for its innovative inter-professional programs, he said. The University of Pittsburgh sponsors a competition on collaboration, which harnesses student energy and passion and reinforces inter-professional work and education, Schuetz added.

While the concept of team-based healthcare is not new, the crisis in primary care physicians, nursing shortages and the focus on primary care medical homes have increased conversation among schools of nursing, medical and pharmacy, said Mann.

Changes to these programs and take a long time, but they are necessary, she said. Rather than anticipate the impact of these changes, Mann asks, “What happens when we don’t do these things, if we don’t have team-based care?”

The challenge going forward, given the limited funding across the board, is how to make these programs sustainable, Mann said.

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