Lightning Talk

Examining Bias and Privilege as a Strategy to Decrease Barriers to Interprofessional Communication

Tuesday, October 13, 2020, 1:05 pm - 2:05 pm EDT

This presentation describes a teaching module created to intentionally engage entry-level occupational and physical therapy students in examining the impact of their beliefs and attitudes on communication with each other and with their future patients. The module addresses the uncomfortable issues of conscious and unconscious bias, the impact of privilege, and communication barriers that can derail teams. This module was added to a course that was already taught by an interprofessional faculty as well as being the first course offered in the curricula for both professional programs. This content gives students an early exposure to belief systems that create barriers for professional communication on teams. The module includes four workshops led by trained group leaders from the University’s Human Resources Department. Teaching methods include reflection, interprofessional small group activities and discussions. Students are guided through the module using active learning strategies such as a self-assessment of communication styles, a Privilege Walk, a Privilege for Sale group experience, and discussions about examples of productive and unproductive conversations. Under the protection of the confidentiality guidelines established at the start of the module, students are free to share examples from their own lives and challenge each other respectfully about statements made by classmates that may be perceived differently than intended. After completion of this communication-immersive experience, students continue to apply their newly learned communication strategies as they progress through the remainder of the course. Students explore content on topics including interprofessional practice, ethics, and the International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) Framework through the lens of unconscious bias to identify how their own preconceptions shape how they think about these issues. This module helps students to understand their communication styles and prepares them to make more thoughtful and reasoned choices as they interact with other professionals and patients during their clinical training.