To most people, say the word marshmallow and visions of s’mores and campfires come to mind.
For the 350 first-year students who participated in the MGH Institute’s third annual Community Day on September 19, a marshmallow now has a new meaning: interprofessional education.
More than 35 teams of 6-8 students from the MGH Institute’s four direct-entry programs — Master of Science in Nursing, Doctor of Occupational Therapy, Doctor of Physical Therapy, and Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology, plus the Master of Science in Physical Therapy — competed in a team-building exercise as each group tried to build the highest free-standing straw tower that could hold a marshmallow at its peak.
Along with the laughter and friendly competition was a first look at developing the kind of strategic team planning and communication they will learn over the next two to three years and implement when caring for patients.
“We talked about the challenges we all will face and got a different perspective of what other disciplines look for when treating patients,” said speech student Christine Antonio. “It definitely will give me more of an open mind on how to work with other health professionals.”
The exercise launched the school’s Interprofessional Model for Patient and Client-centered Teams curriculum. Better known as IMPACT Practice. The curriculum engages students in a series of interprofessional courses and activities in which they learn with, from, and about one another throughout their first year and reinforces a focus on interprofessional education that has been an Institute hallmark for more than 37 years.
“Several studies in recent years have reported that team of health professionals who work together are needed to address issues of safety and quality in healthcare delivery. High functioning teams, quite simply, provide better patient care” said Clinical Assistant Professor Mary Knab, who along with a faculty team first created IMPACT Practice in 2013. “Our aim is to provide students with opportunities to develop the competencies they’ll need to function effectively as members of interprofessional collaborative teams both during their Institute education and after they graduate.”