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In early February, undergraduate students in this semester’s English 695 course attended and observed an interdisciplinary event aimed at fostering collaboration between different types of health professionals. Sam Weeks sat down with three of the students to interview them on their experiences attending the training.

What struck you most about this experience?

“I realized the weight of the collective potential that UNC health students have to affect the healthcare system in the future–so many future nurses, nutritionists, OTs, PTs, dentists, and others sat in the same auditorium to focus on interdisciplinary communication. If they all maintain that same level of dedication to interdisciplinary work throughout their careers, patient care could look very different in 10 or 20 years.” — Audrey Ward

How can you see your experience with the IPE extending into other disciplines/areas of your study/work?

“I aspire to become a health care professional in the future and by observing the IPE experience, I understood the value of integrative teamwork in order to successfully treat a patient based on their needs. Interdisciplinary collaboration is becoming heavily emphasized as the current health care system is honing in on more patient-centered care.” – Manisha Mishra

How do you feel the Health Sciences students viewed you as a Humanities student?

“I honestly felt like a fly on the wall for most of the experience because once I mentioned that I would not be contributing to the case discussion, everyone seemed to forget that I was in the room and taking notes throughout the event. When I first introduced myself and said that I was a Health Humanities student, I did get a few puzzled looks so I’m assuming that some people do not know what Health Humanities is or why I was in attendance.” – Lorena Millo

“I was pleasantly surprised by the warm welcome I received from the other students in my group–they didn’t have a clear definition of what health humanities entails, but all of them were attracted to the general idea and happy to have a health humanities student in the group.” – Audrey Ward

What did you notice about the interdisciplinary interactions that seemed helpful? What seemed to not work?

“The introductions at the start of the small group discussions, which included each student addressing a misconception about their profession, helped to create a sense of trust and familiarity between the students. This fostered the progression of group discussion and also allowed students to analyze the amount of knowledge available in the room. One aspect that did not work as well as planned was the way the case studies were designed. Certain students felt that it was easier to contribute to the conversation due to the wealth of information they presented with, whereas other students struggled to actively contribute due to the lack of information pertinent to their field.” – Manisha Mishra

“My issue with the event was that many of the conversations between team members felt artificial and no one seemed invested enough to engage in heated conversation about patient recommendations when the sessions were only lasting two days. I also found it quite problematic that the event was supposed to help students learn about patient-centered care, yet the “patient” was a sheet of paper with vital signs rather than a real person that can talk back and actively participate in her own care. In essence, I thought the event reinforced conceptions of patients as problems to be solved, puzzles to be mastered, more than people to be cared for.” – Lorena Millo





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