Pharmacy Student Participation in Rural Interdisciplinary Education Using Problem Based Learning

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Pharmacy Student Participation in Rural Interdisciplinary Education Using Problem Based Learning (PBL) Case Tutorials1 Matthew E. Borrego2,a, Robert Rhyneb, L. Clark Hansbargerb, Zina Gellerc, Paul Edwardsd, Bonnie Griffine, Linda McClainf and Joseph V. Scalettib a

College of Pharmacy, bSchool of Medicine, cPhysical Therapy Program, dDental Hygiene Program, eMedical Laboratory Sciences Program, fOccupational Therapy Program, The University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, Albuquerque NM 87131 The purpose of this paper is to describe pharmacy student participation in a rural interdisciplinary health care training program that utilizes a small group, problem based learning (PBL) curriculum. Disciplines represented in the interdisciplinary program included pharmacy, medicine, nursing, dental hygiene, medical laboratory science, speech and language pathology, public health, social work and physical, respiratory and occupational therapy. Students participated in on-campus and rural community experiences. Both experiences made extensive use of the PBL case tutorial learning method. The rural experience consisted of weekly case tutorials and discipline specific clinical clerkships while living in a rural community for two months. Program evaluation indicates positive changes in student confidence and attitudes related to interdisciplinary concepts. The Program has demonstrated success in the placement of Program participants in rural or under served areas upon graduation. Interdisciplinary training may result in many benefits; the impact the Program has had on students, faculty and participating rural communities is discussed.

INTRODUCTION The training of pharmacy students occurs, in many instances, in isolation from other health professions students. However, as pharmacy students complete their discipline specific curriculum and find employment, they are expected to understand, cooperate and work with other health care professionals in providing professional care. Interdisciplinary health professional education is a method that may be used to foster understanding, cooperation, and an appreciation for the expertise each health discipline brings to solving patient problems. Interdisciplinary training for health professions students can involve simultaneous didactic and experiential training experiences. The Third Report of the Pew Health Professions Commission, Critical Challenges: Revitalizing the Health Professions for the Twenty-First Century, proposes a challenge and recommendation for all health professionals to incorporate team training and crossprofessional education(1). The Report specifically states, “There is no justification for the artificial separation of professionals in training. While legitimate areas of specialized study should remain the domain of individual professional training programs, key areas of pre-clinical and clinical training must be put together as a whole, across professional communities. This means more sharing of clinical training resources, more cross-teaching by professional faculties, more exploration of the various roles played by professionals and the active modeling of effective team integration in the delivery of efficient, high quality care.”

Baldwin defines interdisciplinary education as “a situation encompassing the mingling of several disciplines traditionally distinct in such a way as to create a unified product: a course, a paper, or even a curriculum.”(2) “Interdisciplinary” implies cooperation to the point of true collaboration. Interdisciplinary teams pool their knowledge and skills to solve complex patient health problems and work in a more fluid, flexible and egalitarian manner, often with shifting leadership(2,3). A recent review article provides an historical perspective of interdisciplinary health professional education and primary health care team training over a fifty-year period from its inception in the late 1940s to the present(4). An initiative authorized and...
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