University of South Florida

New course amplifies team learning by looking at patients across time

USF Health has been at the forefront for training healthcare professionals to work in teams – from its ground-breaking coursework that combines students from medical, nursing and physical therapy programs to the newly opened Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation that is training professionals from around the world.

A new program at USF Health is honing those skills further by providing case-based sessions across time, an approach that offers a more realistic view of how healthcare teams care for patients requiring multiple visits and whose care needs to be reassessed as their conditions change.

“We have worked as a collaborative Interprofessional team to develop a really robust small group case-based session,” said Dawn M. Schocken, director of the Center for Advanced Clinical Learning for the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, which hosted the program.

“The small-group facilitation makes this a successful and terrific learning activity and a wonderful experience for our learners to learn to work as a team, before they enter the workforce.”

The IPE Educational program, which features small group sessions focused on a patient scenario, is training students from multiple educational tracts –USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, College of Nursing, College of Pharmacy, and the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences – to work together. Student learners included fifth-semester nursing students (from the Leadership Course); doctoral students (year 2) from the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences; second-year medical students; and doctoral student (year 2) pharmacy students. In addition, 16 faculty members from across USF Health volunteered to participate, including five faculty from College of Nursing, four faculty from College of Pharmacy, two faculty from School of Physical Therapy, and five faculty from Morsani College of Medicine.

Sessions for the program started last week and included 260 student learners. Spanning two days, students met with faculty members who facilitated discussions surrounding the care of a 65-year-old female patient recovering from a stroke and currently in a skilled nursing facility. Each student had already learned about the patient’s care from admission to the hospital with a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis through a stroke in the intensive care unit and discharge from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility.


The goal of this program was to have the students work together to develop a plan of care for the patient as she recovers from her illness, and address any concerns either she or her family have regarding her care. During the small group sessions, a standardized patient, representing the real patient’s family member, met with the student teams to discuss their concerns for their family member’s care.

The scenario will continue for the student/faculty teams in February when they will meet again to learn a new portion of the case, and then carry on their discussion to assess new needs for our ‘patient’.

Response to the team-building experience is positive, said Gail H. Schinka RN MS, clinical instructor of nursing and coordinator for the VA Nursing Academy, a partnership of the USF College of Nursing and the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital to expand education for nursing students and health care for veteran.

“This exercise gave all of the students some good insight into the roles of other disciplines and allowed them to explore how best to communicate with each other to drive positive patient outcomes,” Schinka said.

Student learners gain a decided advantage by training in teams, said Chiara Stetson, a fifth-semester student from the College of Nursing.

“Fostering an interdisciplinary team approach early on in healthcare education will hopefully transition to a multidisciplinary approach in treatment across the health care field,” Stetson said. “Utilizing the knowledge, skill, and expertise from multiple disciplines, with the common goal of patient-centered care, has been shown to improve patient outcomes.  Hopefully this approach can be integrated into the healthcare system in the years to come leading to increased satisfaction of both the patients and their providers. (The IPE session) was a great learning experience one that I would love to see being continued in the future.”


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