Interprofessional Education Aims to Foster Learning, Collaboration Among Healthcare Students (10/03/2019)

A pilot study by Tufts University School of Medicine researchers suggests that a virtual interprofessional education (IPE) environment could serve as a platform for helping students from different healthcare fields learn and better understand collaborative patient care. Tufts professor Amy L. Lee said it is difficult to bring student schedules into alignment so learners can physically convene and collaborate; however, a virtual setting could prove valuable. The researchers designed an IPE palliative care experience in the Second Life virtual reality (VR) platform and had 35 graduate-level students in various disciplines enroll in two-hour online sessions. Activities included a team scavenger hunt coordinated through audio and group-text messaging; remote dialogues with patients and family members in an exam room; a virtual depiction of the patient's experience; and a debriefing session. The researchers generally found the VR IPE platform to be comfortable and convenient for students and improved their mindsets about the importance of other healthcare professionals. "The virtual environment opens up a new possibility for removing some of the barriers to collaborative patient care, Lee concluded. Results from the study are published in the Journal of Interprofessional Care.

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