NDSU pharmacy students and UND medical students train together to learn life-saving skills

April 10, 2018 – Grand Forks, North Dakota – More than 60 North Dakota State University doctor of pharmacy students and more than 70 University of North Dakota medical school students trained together on April 9 in the Simulation Center in the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences to foster interdisciplinary skills.

As part of the State Legislature’s Healthcare Workforce Initiative (HWI), university health professions programs have been asked to help meet the state’s growing healthcare workforce needs and cultivate these professionals’ collaborative and interdisciplinary skills. This was the first time the universities have conducted this type of simulation, training jointly with doctor of pharmacy and medical students side-by-side.

The UND SMHS Simulation Center provides hands-on, state-of-the-art simulation training in a clinical setting. Health professionals can actively apply their knowledge in simulation, observation, and debriefing of real-life patient scenarios to improve patient safety and care. In high-fidelity patient simulations, computerized manikins are used to simulate situations such as cardiac arrest, stroke, or drug overdose.

“The significance of interprofessional education for both medical and pharmacy curricula to prepare future healthcare professionals cannot be overstated,” said Marketa Marvanova, PharmD, PhD, chair of Pharmacy Practice in the NDSU School of Pharmacy. “As our health system becomes more team-oriented, providers’ ability to work in teams to improve patient outcomes and provide safe and effective care will only become more important.”

Marvanova and Simulation Center Director Jon Allen, MD, FACP, served as coordinators of the joint training. Both agreed on the importance of having medical students and PharmD students collaborate on patient care.

“Since working on opioid abuse together last year, Dr. Marvanova and I have had a great working relationship and looked forward to this collaboration between our schools,” Dr. Allen added. “It’s important to the education of healthcare professionals, not only regarding opioids, but also regarding the teamwork experience that will be part of these students’ entire careers.”

The simulation environment allowed third-year NDSU School of Pharmacy students and second-year UND SMHS students to gain experience in how each profession plays a role in providing patient care as part of a highly effective, integrated healthcare team. Each simulation included a 10-minute pre-briefing, 25-minute simulation exercise, and 25-minute debriefing for students and instructors to gauge their performance during the training.

“Being thrown in to a simulation where we have no idea what's going to happen in an emergency room setting was probably the most beneficial,” said Michelle Bjerke, third-year pharmacy student at NDSU. “Being put in this simulation with medical students helped to make the scenario more realistic. There were more providers available to make the judgment call of what to do next and helped to formulate a treatment plan for our patient.”

Goals of the joint health professions training with NDSU pharmacy students and UND medical students included increasing students’ skills to collaborate and communicate with team members in an emergency situation and to efficiently and effectively deliver patient care. Similar joint simulation sessions between the two universities are being planned.

“We look forward to continuing to provide exceptional training opportunities for students in health professions to assist them in being practice-ready and team-ready,” said Charles Peterson, dean of the College of Health Professions at NDSU.

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