Different healthcare professionals such as doctors, nurses and pharmacists work closely together in healthcare, yet students from these professions are taught and trained separately. It is high time for interdisciplinary training to be integrated into medical training.

Interdisciplinary healthcare is an approach to healthcare that provides for the diverse needs of every patient. The collaboration of group members with different skill sets, such as physicians, nurses, pharmacists, and psychologists create comprehensive management plans for patients.

While health science degree programs are traditionally taught separately, learning and training together with other healthcare professionals can prepare medical students better for the actual healthcare environment, where effective teamwork is crucial to patient care.

Interdisciplinary training to fill the gaps in medical training

Medical students usually learn through simulations of real-life scenarios, but these simulations lack the input of other healthcare professionals, which are invaluable in actual healthcare.

Interdisciplinary training can bridge the gap between students of different professions and help medical students better understand the roles of other disciplines within a team.

“It’s hard to know what each person’s role is, what one person has trained to do that another might not be able to. Spending these past few weeks alongside nurse practitioner and pharmacy trainees, I gained insight into their unique skill sets and learned so much from watching their patient interactions,” said Hamsika Chandrasekar, a fourth-year Stanford medical school student.

Furthermore, interdisciplinary training offers a more accurate model of real healthcare environments, where interpersonal dynamics, hierarchy, and team roles are part of the complex environment students will be working in.

Healthcare professionals have much to learn from each other

There are many things medical students can learn from students who have received parallel but different training from them. For example, medical students are able to learn techniques in handling restless patients from nurse practitioner students who may have more experience in the field.

Chandrasekar found her experience taking a patient history with nurse practitioner trainees invaluable: “Each of us brought a different perspective to patient discussions, and listening to the other students take histories, I found that they astutely inquired about details that I hadn’t even thought about.”

Such training ultimately encourages cross-pollination of knowledge and skills of different healthcare professionals, builds a healthy respect for the roles of other healthcare professionals, and enhances team communication skills.

The University of Kansas is an example among several other universities that integrate interdisciplinary training into their programs. Medical students take part in interdisciplinary simulations during their paediatric clinical rotations, where medical students work together with pharmacy and nursing students in scenarios supervised by paediatric residents.

If logistic obstacles such as integrating learning programs across different departments and scheduling across multiple programs can be overcome, interdisciplinary training can offer an invaluable learning experience to all students. MIMS

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Smith, Brenda. "Interdisciplinary Training In Medical Simulation: A Comparison Of Team Training Courses In Simulation Programs In Hospital Healthcare Systems, Medical Schools And Nursing Schools". Perkins + Will Research Journal, vol 5, no. 2, 2013