An interprofessional competition that gives students a chance to collaborate with one another while simultaneously trying to outwit the students on competing teams has grown over the years to attract more than 40 participants from four schools at the University of Maryland (UM) campus in Baltimore.
The 2011 Interprofessional Patient Management Competition (IPMC), which was held last month at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy (SOP), challenged multidisciplinary teams to devise a treatment strategy for a hypothetical patient whose case presented complex medical as well as legal issues. Members of the nine teams had to first get acquainted and then pool their knowledge while working under tight time limits.
Teaching the skills needed to bridge disciplines has gained importance at the University as well as nationally. University President Jay A. Perman, MD, has established an Interprofessional Education (IPE) Task Force to encourage collaboration.
On May 10 in Washington, D.C., representatives of multiple associations for health professions and several private foundations released two reports that are expected to further drive IPE. A report on team-based competencies grew out of a national conference in which Perman participated. The other report is on core competencies for students that would enable them to work across the professions.
Patricia Morton, PhD, RN, ACNP, FAAN, co-chair of the president's task force, observed the IPMC event held on April 6. "The IPMC is a superb example of interprofessional education that helps students understand how they will have to work together once they have graduated," said Morton, professor and associate dean for academic affairs at the UM School of Nursing (SON).
The 2011 IPMC drew student and faculty representatives from the SON, SOP, the School of Law (SOL), the School of Medicine (SOM), and the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science in the SOM.
James Trovato, PharmD, MBA, BCOP, FASHP, associate professor in the SOP, led the panel of faculty volunteers who constructed a template for the case, contributing components relevant to each discipline and later grading for the way the teams handled the cases orally and in writing.
"The students gain from the whole experience, seeing what other professions bring to the table. As faculty, we assess their thought process," said Trovato, who is shown in the photo, standing left, as he confers with the other judges.
This year's contest was built on the case of a 42-year-old woman whose cancer had spread. A worksheet showed that upon arrival at a hospital, she had fever, confusion, severe pain, and dehydration, among other conditions. She had been easing her pain and nausea with medical marijuana that had been prescribed in another state, and would like more. She is likely suffering effects from a recent course of cancer therapy, and her low white blood cell count has put her at severe risk for further infection.
Legal matters appeared precarious, too. She was not sufficiently cognizant to give informed consent and has no advanced directive. Her civil union with a same-sex partner was legalized in another state, and the custody of their two small daughters may be in question in the event of the patient's death.
During the competition, the teams spent two hours preparing their plans and then were given 10 minutes each to present them to the panel. Each team's written summary would later circulate among the faculty, accounting for 70 percent of the score.
While still on the clock, students fielded judges' questions. "Where's this fever coming from?" "Are you concerned about her mobility, her weight-bearing capacity given metastasis to the bone?" "What about the need for a lumbar puncture?"
Faculty members of the IPMC steering committee, who also served as judges, were Trovato; Virginia Rowthorn, JD, managing director of the Law & Health Care Program at the SOL; Conrad Gordon, MS, RN, ACNP, assistant professor, SON; Jacob Blumenthal, MD, assistant professor, SOM; and Ellen Wruble Hakim, PT, DScPT, assistant professor in the SOM's physical therapy department. An additional judge was Brock Beamer, MD, assistant professor at the SOM.
The cases vary from year to year. For example, a geriatric patient was the center of a previous competition.
The 2011 IPMC was the eighth held here and the largest one since Trovato introduced the event to the University more than a decade ago, modeling it on the Clinical Skills Competition conducted by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. By comparison, the original IPMC event in 2000 consisted of teams from pharmacy, nursing and medicine, with three students per team.
This year's competition was won by Team 8, consisting of students Gayatri Patel, SOL; Brad Kretzer, SON; Annie Brucksch, SOP; Ashley Simmons, physical therapy; and a student in the SOM who wants to remain anonymous.
The second-place winner was Team 4, made up of Allison Bogsted, SOL; Nicole Cimino, SOM; Mark Walker, SON; Sarah Pierce, SOP; and Arati Deshpande, physical therapy. The third-place winner was Team 9, made up of Abe Gitterman, SOL; Evan Chriss, SOM; Brenda Harkins, SON; Troy Horvat, SOP; and Audrey Waples, physical therapy.
"It's gaining traction," said Ranjit Hatti, a second-year student at the SOL, which began participating in 2010. "Students are recognizing a greater need to come out of their silos and start working with people in other disciplines."
The event is supported by the University Student Government Association and organizations such as the Student Health Law Organization; Phi Lambda Sigma at the SOP; and the Student Society of Health-System Pharmacy (SSHP), whose president, Andrea Passarelli, played the traditional leading role.
Other active members of the IPMC steering committee were Janet Lee and Sheryl Thedford, students at the SOP; James Ladd, SOM; Kretzer and Harkins, SON; Waples of physical therapy; and Hatti of the SOL.
The student representatives are responsible for encouraging participation, and Passarelli gave several reasons why students signed up. One was to make friends from different schools. Another was to compete for prizes such as gift cards and Orioles tickets. Another was the tasty, catered meal. The most practical for pharmacy students was gaining the edge that competitors expect to have later when applying for rotations.
But the simplest reason may have been the best: to have fun.