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Week 3: Interprofessional Professionalism
Week 3: Interprofessional Professionalism
August 19, 2013 – August 23, 2013

During my first week at AACP, Dr. Adams mentioned there was a meeting she thought would be of significant value to me based on my professional interests. As I perused the email she forwarded containing a variety of documents, the title of the meeting group, “Interprofessional Professionalism Collaborative,” immediately caught my eye. As I pondered over this title and curiously began to imagine what interprofessional professionalism could possibly mean, my excitement grew for this opportunity.
 
With fourteen individuals seated around the table and twelve disciplines represented, I was intrigued as to what kind of discussions would surface over the next day and a half. As we went around the table and completed introductions, I learned this group had been working together for approximately eight years and that they last met in person almost two years ago. Thus, there was a lot of work to be done in the next day and a half. With recent IRB approval, the group was ready to launch their pilot assessment tool but first wanted to review the process one final time as a group. So we broke off into groups of two with one individual playing the role of the preceptor and the other playing the role of the student. As the groups began to work through the documents, the chatter began to intensify. After working with our respective partner for about an hour, we reconvened as a group to discuss the assessment tool. As we reviewed the materials, it quickly became apparent that this discussion was going to take much longer than initially anticipated and that each of the members of this collaborative had an invested interest in the delivery of this assessment tool. With the day quickly coming to a close, we realized it was best to divide the work into subgroups and that each subgroup would have an area of focus and report their suggestions to the group at large the next day.
 
With an early start on day two, the subgroups worked together diligently to provide their constructive criticism to the delivery of the assessment tool. As my group worked through our analysis of the assessment tool feedback survey, it was interesting to notice how each of us interpreted or evaluated a statement somewhat differently and I could not help but wonder if this was in part due to our diverse training. As our discussions continued, I began to realize how many factors play a role in our approach to evaluation. From gender to professional discipline, it was obvious many factors contributed to our personal development and thus how we approach and solve a problem. For example, one member was particularly mindful of grammar edits as she is responsible for many written publications within her association, while another member was particularly mindful of how each piece of data collected would be reported in the publication as he has extensive experience in statistics and data reporting. Even I played a unique role and was able to represent the student perspective in these discussions.
 
As the discussions continued, I noticed how each discipline had something unique to offer to the conversation. For example, when the topic of inter- vs. intra-professional surfaced over our lunch break, the initial consensus was that inter-professionalism involved professionals from different disciplines and thus educations while intra-professionalism involved professionals from the same discipline and education. However, when the dentistry representative challenged the group with how each of us would classify dental hygienists and dentists, it became clear that the definition we had gathered based on our own discipline could not be directly applied to this example. Dental hygienists and dentists both practice dentistry but undergo different educations and receive different degrees; so is this intra- or inter- professionalism? In the end, the group finished their lunch with individual reflection on the conversation at hand and realized that what could appear so clear in one discipline may not be as straightforward in another. What stuck out to me the most was recognizing that this realization probably would not have occurred had such a variety of health professions disciplines not been seated around the same table engaging in discussion.
 
As we closed the conversation regarding revisions of the assessment tool, Dr. Adams leaned over and asked me what I thought of the meeting thus far. I commented that while the interprofessional discussions surrounding the assessment tool were challenging, I thought these discussions were enriched by the diversity of disciplines present and that without such challenging conversation, the true satisfaction in the end product would not have been possible. Later that afternoon, a comment was made that hit home for me. In discussing the difference between education and practice, one of the members commented that students are often at the crux of the two. Education teaches one thing while the practice setting expects another; thus students are often left torn between what they have been taught in the classroom and the realities of real-world practice. In my future academic career, I hope to help bridge this gap between education and practice. I hope to implement curricula that focus more on the practice of pharmacy and the role pharmacy plays in the interprofessional team. Because ultimately, it is the healthcare team that is providing comprehensive care to the patient and thus true collaboration is needed to result in the best outcomes for our patients.
 
Jackie Zeeman
UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy
PharmD Candidate | Class of 2014

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