Indiana State University Newsroom

Event stresses collaborative approach to health care

February 29, 2012

A workshop intended to help students better understand the team approach to health care also gave some participants a new appreciation for the knowledge levels and skillsets of their future colleagues.

"I was surprised just how much athletic trainers have to know," Jessica Mathias of Indianapolis and a senior nursing major, said following an inter-professional education day at Indiana State University.

"I didn't know anything about public health education," said Erika Collins of Greencastle, a senior social work major at Indiana State.

"I was really surprised by the medical students," she said of second-year students from Indiana University School of Medicine.

This year's event, sponsored by the West-Central Indiana Area Health Education Center, brought radiology technology students from Ivy Tech Community College into the mix for the first time.

"I didn't know that much about radiology at all and it was very nice to see (their) input," said Kimberly Koll, a senior social work major from Middlebury. "I didn't know how much knowledge the nursing students had. They're very well prepared."

More than 160 students from Indiana State, IU Medical School-Terre Haute and Ivy Tech's Wabash Valley campus split into inter-disciplinary teams of up to eight students apiece. They then got to work developing treatment plans for fictional patients suffering from a variety of real-world ailments: an aging tennis player with shoulder pain, a 12-year-old boy who suffered an asthma attack on a small town football field and a 54-year-old inner city woman with knee problems.


Organizers developed the scenarios so that students would see the need for input from across the health care spectrum. Not only were doctors, nurses and the growing discipline of physician's assistants involved, but also athletic trainers - for the aging tennis player as well as the young footballer, radiology technicians to take X-rays, health educators to provide all with tips on managing their conditions and living healthier lifestyles, dieticians to develop healthy meal plans and social workers to help patients navigate increasingly complex insurance and community outreach programs.

Betsy Frank, professor emerita of nursing, was a driving force behind the launch of inter-professional education day in 2010 and is pleased to see it continue.

"One of the essential competencies for 21st Century healthcare is working in inter-professional teams. Therefore, students in the health professions must have the opportunities to work with their colleagues in health professions different from their own while they are students," Frank said.

"Normally, we're only around other students, especially in classroom sessions, that involve the modalities of X-ray," said Jason Kennedy, a second-year radiology technician student at Ivy Tech. "Being able to come into this environment with all these different ranges of providers was good to see how the pieces of the puzzle of the health care system come together."

Kennedy said events such as the inter-professional education day may help reduce potential stress that might otherwise occur once students graduate and find themselves suddenly working with providers trained in other disciplines.

"We knew what we were going to do," he said of the various scenarios, "we just didn't know how each other fit in to the overall scheme of things."

The addition of Ivy Tech students was done in an effort to fill a void that was evident at the first inter-professional education day in fall 2010, said Julie Will, dean of the School of Health Sciences at Ivy Tech-Wabash Valley.

"We felt there were some disciplines missing to meet the needs of the client scenarios," Will said. "We felt that if we added them in with a specific discipline that met the roles that were needed, that would allow groups to start working together."

A collaborative approach to healthcare is especially important in rural communities where many graduates of ISU, the IU Medical School and Ivy Tech, will practice, she added.

"Whether a student is at a commuter campus such as Ivy Tech or they live on campus at ISU they're going to go back somewhere. We can provide them the opportunity to learn what it's like in a rural setting. If they've learned to work together already, that's a step they won't have to go through when they go back."

Tiffani Williams, a senior nursing major from Indianapolis, said she already had a good understanding of the roles other health care providers play, but "this definitely stressed the importance (of collaboration) and put things into perspective. It takes a little bit from

everyone in order to provide the holistic care that patients need."

No one person knows everything about a patient's needs, added Koll.

"You can only work so hard to gain as much knowledge as you can in one area and somebody's always going to have a different opinion, a different thought, or a different idea - some other way that you may not have thought to do it that can help you," she said.


Photos: - Students from Indiana State University, the Indiana University School of Medicine-Terre Haute and Ivy Tech Community College-Wabash Valley took part in an inter-professional health education day Feb. 24, 2012 at ISU's Hulman Memorial Student Union. (ISU/Tony Campbell) - Indiana State University faculty members Robyn Lugar (left), associate professor of social work, Florence Uruakpa-Nweke, assistant professor of health sciences, and Betsy Frank, professor emerita of nursing, were among educators who conducted an inter-professional learning day for students from Indiana State, the Indiana University School of Medicine-Terre Haute, and Ivy Tech Community College. (ISU/Tony Campbell) - Indiana State University nursing student Jennifer Fish of Plainfield (left), Ivy Tech Community College radiology technician student Jason Kennedy of Terre Haute, and Patrick Titzer of Evansville, a medical student at the Indiana University School of Medicine-Terre Haute, were among more than 160 students from the three institutions taking part in an inter-professional education day Feb. 24, 2012 at Indiana State. (ISU/Tony Campbell) - Indiana State University students Tiffani Williams (left), a senior nursing major from Indianapolis; Briana Wilson, a senior health education major from Indianapolis; and Ashley Whitcraft, a junior athletic training major from Grovertown, discuss a treatment plan for a fictional 12-yeer-old asthma patient during an inter-professional education day exercise on Feb. 24, 2012. (ISU/Tony Campbell)

Contact: Betsy Frank, professor emerita of nursing, College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services, Indiana State University, 812-237-3481 or

Writer: Dave Taylor, media relations director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-3743 or