Partnering with Patients and Families to Maximize Authenticity and Student Engagement in Online Interprofessional Education
BACKGROUND: COVID-19-associated social distancing practices necessitated significantly altering a previously planned large-scale interprofessional education (IPE) activity for approximately 1000 students at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. As a result, we developed and piloted an innovative, self-directed online learning experience emphasizing student engagement.
DESIGN: We partnered with the family of a child in the local community with complex health needs to develop two unique case studies telling their story while emphasizing the value of teamwork on quality of care and highlighting caregiver fatigue. Case studies were designed to underscore principles of teamwork, which were introduced to students through a brief presentation at the beginning of the IPE activity. The first was an illustrated case study, which utilized professionally rendered illustrations and text inspired by graphic novels and comic strips to tell one part of the family’s story. The second part of the story was told through a professionally produced video interview with the family member, which provided an expanded personal account of her child’s healthcare experience. The interview built upon earlier concepts introduced in the illustrated case study and pleasantly surprised students by revealing that previously studied illustrations were based upon real events experienced by a known community member. The entire IPE activity utilized our learning management system, which students completed in a self-directed, synchronous manner in small groups. A convergent parallel mixed methods design was used to assess learner outcomes, which included a quantitative phase with a validated student engagement instrument and additional items devoted to specific components of the experience. The qualitative phase collected data through written responses to open-ended prompts and a post-activity focus group session.
RESULTS: Ten volunteer students representing nine unique health professions participated in the pilot. Students were assigned to three different groups and completed the two-hour IPE activity at a time of their choosing. Quantitative results indicated high student engagement, which was corroborated by emergent themes from qualitative data. The illustrated and video case studies also rated highly in facilitating engagement and application of teamwork principles.
CONCLUSION/IMPLICATIONS: This self-directed, synchronous, online IPE activity demonstrated feasibility and high levels of student engagement. Our purposeful integration of patients and families into the educational design process proved vital to the success of this pilot experience. Future efforts include replication to demonstrate scalability with increased student participation, as well as exploration of peer facilitation modalities prior to deployment as a university-wide IPE activity.