Engaging Interprofessionally Beyond Your Health Professions Program

It's important for all of us to stay engaged in ways that are meaningful to us throughout our health professional programs. As an incoming Women's Health and Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) student, I had always dreamed of working in an interprofessional setting. Being a part of the Interprofessional Internship Program is one of the ways I work towards that goal. 

During my undergraduate work, I was able to attend a University with a strong IPE curriculum built into their program. This was paired with Clinical Scholars, an extracurricular program that placed students on interprofessional teams with faculty to work on quality improvement projects with community partners. These experiences nourished my interest in IPE and made me want to work on interprofessional teams in the future. 

In my first position post-graduation, I noticed varying levels of skill related to interprofessional collaboration, and that reaffirmed how important it was to me that my own education included opportunities for IPE. This led me to apply to the Office of Academic and Clinical Affairs (OACA) Interprofessional Internship Program in the first year of my DNP program. I knew I wanted strong interdisciplinary skills, and the best way to practice was to place myself in a position that required interprofessional teams! I was placed with a Master of Healthcare Administration (MHA) student on a project that evaluated interprofessional interactions between students in a large health system.

When I first started my internship and met my co-intern, I felt intimidated, as she had proficient skills in Microsoft Excel, knew how to host and lead meetings, and was able to communicate complex data structures through organized slide decks. Even though I was blown away by her skills, working with her allowed me to practice and build my abilities in those same ways. I also noticed that things I found simple were more challenging for her, and she was able to also gain insight from me. I was more knowledgeable on the clinical side of our project as a Registered Nurse (RN) and DNP student, while she knew the business side of the problems we encountered. We were a fantastic team!

Being paired with her was a great way to expand my lens of what healthcare is and appreciate the importance of interprofessional practice. My co-intern and I worked seamlessly together with our community partner and learned how large health systems implement quality improvement. Working with our community partner for the internship taught me how to look at a complex task and break it down into concrete deliverables, structure timelines, and work on a team that has professionals who were trained in ways that are different from my own training.

It also reaffirmed the value of interprofessional teams and how diverse perspectives can implement projects in ways that lead to sustainable change. This inspired me to expand my own DNP quality improvement project to not only include sources from physicians and nurse practitioners, but also from social work, physical therapy, home health nursing, triage nursing, and pharmacy. By interviewing a diverse set of interprofessional healthcare workers, I was able to create a Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) toolkit to aid Women's Health Nurse Practitioners in assessing and addressing SDOH in the clinic setting. By being part of the Interprofessional Internship, I gained the skills and knowledge to work on quality improvement projects with community partners in interprofessional settings. I am excited to carry this knowledge forward with me and utilize it in my future role as a Women's Health Nurse Practitioner. 

March 20, 2023

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