Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science

Lynchburg Journal of Medical Science


PA Education


Dr. Mark Archambault



Purpose – An interprofessional collaborative approach to patient care has become increasingly important with provider shortages, over-burdened scheduling, and medical errors. Accreditation agencies recognize the value of interprofessional education (IPE) and the need for improved patient safety. Interprofessional education allows for the exchange of knowledge, understanding of the scope of practice of various health professions, promotes respect through communication, and reduces practice isolationism. The Joint Commission’s patient safety goals highlight the significance of medical errors and the need for medical error reduction. This study evaluated benefits of a single IPE event.

Methods – Two-hundred and eighty-nine students from three health professions (PA, PharmD, and SLP) participated in an IPE event. There were 29 teams consisting of 1-2 PA students, 1-SLP student, and 7-8 PharmD students. The IPE event included individual pre-event activity and team activities. The individual activity addressed scope of practice and team dynamics. During the event, each team completed the same assignment. After discussing scope of practice and team dynamics, teams applied the expertise of each profession to evaluate and manage a patient scenario. Lastly, teams completed a risk management assessment of a medical error resulting from a systematic failure by various health professions. Students completed a post-event attitudes survey (5-point Likert scale; “Definitely Enhance” to “Definitely Worsened”).

Results – Survey response rates varied among programs (PA 41/41 [100%]; PharmD 184/219[84%]; SLP 19/29 [65%]). PA students reported the highest rate of enhanced knowledge. The percentage of students reporting enhanced knowledge was highest for the PA students, followed by PharmD, then SLP students. Ninety-six percent of PA, 86% of Pharmacy, and 70% of SLP students reported enhanced knowledge of the professions’ scope of practice. Nearly the same percentages were likely to include other professions in future patient care. Ninety-seven percent of PA, 92% of Pharmacy, and 79% of SLP students reported an enhanced ability to apply collective professional knowledge to patient care. The majority of students (PA=97%; PharmD=87%; SLP=58%) reported that the IPE enhanced their “Ability to implement effective team attributes to reduce medical errors.” Lastly, each discipline relayed enhanced knowledge of risk management concepts (PA=93%, PharmD=82%, SLP=63%).

Discussion – This research studies the impact of a single 4-hour IPE event. The results demonstrate enhanced knowledge for a majority of students. Our data support existing data regarding the short-term benefits of interprofessional education. Limitations include different survey response rates and the inability to collect long-term benefits data. The longitudinal impact of IPE on clinical practice requires additional research.


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