UM-Flint health care students from various disciplines come together for unique learning opportunity

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UM-Flint students work on patient transferring techniques during a recent workshop.
UM-Flint physical therapy and occupational therapy graduate students recently taught undergraduate radiation therapy and nursing students safe patient transfer techniques in an interprofessional workshop.

When thinking about the best way to teach students safe patient handling techniques, nursing and radiation therapy faculty at the University of Michigan-Flint decided to tap a valuable resource – students from other programs.

A recent interprofessional education event brought occupational therapy and physical therapy graduate students together with nursing and radiation therapy undergraduate students to demonstrate how to safely transfer patients.

Faculty who organized the event said that students walked away with both new patient handling skills and a better understanding of how to work effectively with other health care professionals.

Headshot of Radiation Therapy director Julie Hollenbeck

"Providing our students opportunities to interact with other professions makes them more comfortable and confident when they enter the workforce," said Julie Hollenbeck, radiation therapy program director. "Health care settings are diverse, and being able to communicate and learn from a variety of professionals is crucial."

Radiation therapy and nursing students in the first semester of their programs rotated between seven stations led by occupational therapy and physical therapy students, including safe bed mobility, fall prevention, and using assistive devices and lifts for moving patients. About 100 students participated in the training.

"I have been in a clinical setting and needed help to transfer a patient," said Aniya Callaway, a senior nursing major from Flint. "It is great to learn more about patient care from other disciplines."

Students participate in a safe patient handling workshop
The safe patient handling techniques that students taught those from other majors recently included safe bed mobility and fall prevention.

Students took a pre- and post-survey to assess how the event improved their comfort levels for both safe patient handling techniques and working with other health care professionals. 

Headshot of Andrew Hetherton

"Being able to teach and learn from each other is really important and is going to play a big role in our professional careers," said Andrew Hetherton, a physical therapy graduate student from Mount Pleasant. "It is really beneficial to share some of the skills that we have that nursing and radiation therapy students don't learn in as much detail. These are important things for them to know in order to provide the best care for a patient."

Physical therapy and occupational therapy graduate students both have interprofessional education activities built into their curriculum. For physical therapy students, this activity was one of several they could choose to satisfy that requirement. For occupational therapy students, the activity was a part of their "Introduction to Occupational Therapy" course.

"It is unique to work with students outside of occupational therapy and reflects what we will be doing in the real world," said Kayla Gunn, an occupational therapy graduate student from South Lyon. "It will be an important part of our careers to understand how to collaborate with other fields and interact with different learning styles."

Occupational therapy student Kayla Gunn teaches other health care students safe patient handling techniques
Occupational therapy student Kayla Gunn teaches other health care students safe patient handling techniques.

Faculty from all four programs say that the event was a success and that they hope to offer it again in future semesters.

Headshot of occupational therapy clinical assistant professor Jillian Woodworth

"This was a great chance to demonstrate and teach the lab skills that students learned throughout the semester," said Jillian Woodworth, clinical assistant professor of occupational therapy. "It is important that they learn how to work collaboratively with the disciplines they will be working with once they are out in the field."

To learn more about health care programs at UM-Flint, visit the College of Health Sciences and School of Nursing webpages. 

Martha Pennington is the communications specialist for the College of Health Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].