Innovative interprofessional geriatric education for medical and nursing students: focus on transitions in care

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Background: Interprofessional education (IPE) is crucial in fostering effective collaboration and optimal team-based patient care, all of which improve patient care and outcomes. Appropriate interprofessional communication is especially important in geriatrics where patients are vulnerable to adverse effects across the care continuum. Transitions in geriatric care are complex, involving several disciplines and requiring careful coordination. As part of the University of Virginia’s initiative on IPE, we developed and implemented an interprofessional geriatric education workshop for nursing and medical students with a focus on transitions in care.

Methods: A total of 254 students (144 medical students, 107 nursing students and 3 unknown) participated in a 90-min interactive, case-based workshop. Nursing and medical faculty facilitated the monthly workshops with small groups of medical and nursing students over 1 year. Self-perceived competencies in IPE skills and attitudes toward interprofessional teamwork were measured through post-workshop surveys. Data were analyzed using descriptive and nonparametric statistics, excluding the three unknown students.

Results: Over 90% of students were better able to describe the necessary interprofessional communication needed to develop a patient-centered care plan in transitioning patients between clinical sites. Four out of five students reported an enhanced appreciation of interprofessional teamwork. They were also able to identify legal, financial and social implications in transitions of care (75%). Nursing students consistently rated the workshop more highly than medical students across most domains (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Students improved and demonstrated their knowledge of interprofessional communication and teamwork skills required in transitions of geriatric care. Introducing these concepts in medical and nursing training may help in fostering effective interprofessional communication and collaboration.

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