Students, faculty participate in interprofessional education experience at WMU Senior Day Service

Contact: Jillian Fraze

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—On Thursday, May 27, faculty and students from the departments of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences and Physical Therapy in the College of Health and Human Services visited WMU Senior Day Services to participate in an interprofessional education experience in the Ishler Wellness Lab. Interprofessional education (IPE) occurs when students from two or more professions in health and social care learn together and cultivate a cooperative partnership. In essence, it allows for person-centered care to be delivered while a rich educational experience takes place. For health care education to be advanced, IPE must be part of the picture. The SLP and PT students learned with and from one another in a way that nicely illustrates this.

In total, 59 first- and second-year physical therapy doctoral students along with six first-year speech-language pathology graduate students had a chance to observe each other while conducting various assessments on nine participants at WMU Senior Day Services. Balance assessments and falls risk screenings were provided by the PT students, while cognitive screenings and hearing assessments were provided by the SLP students. During the rotation, students observed the assessments conducted by other disciplines. Students also had the chance to review and discuss the assessment results in small groups to better learn about the scope of practice and role of the other disciplines involved.

"In addition to learning about the assessment tools that the DPT and SLP students were each using, we wanted the students to be able to participate in an event where they were together helping to assess members of the community.  Not only so that they could assess and make recommendations for those individuals, but also to help identify any ways in which our students could contribute to the care of the participants at WMU Senior Day Services," said Melissa Brown, part-time instructor of physical therapy.

"The students truly enjoyed their experience at WMU Senior Day Services and meeting the participants involved. They have many recommendations for activities they would like to try out when they return," Brown continued.

Physical therapy students will continue this project by analyzing the results of the balance and falls risk screenings and offer recommendations for WMU Senior Day services to provide safe and effective activities and exercises.

"It was fun to see what other medical professionals do while they explained what they were doing," said Lauren Washington, speech-language pathology graduate student. 

This event was led by Brown, Kathy Rigley, a speech-language pathology faculty member and clinic coordinator, and Yvonne Jackson, assistant professor of physical therapy. 

This experience has shown to be a great learning opportunity for students to build on current knowledge which will enable them to work in such teams in the future resulting in improved healthcare outcomes for their patients.