Megan Foss, LMSW-CC, Beacon Health Community Care Team and Manpreet Badwal, Pharmacy Student
Colbey Bowen noticed that Norma Craft was clenching her hands and seemed a little uneasy at one point when he was explaining her medical care. So, he decided to stop talking and give his patient some time to process what he was saying. Colbey is a medical student on a home health visit as part of a program of Beacon Health called Interprofessional Practice and Education.
That program teams up medical students, pharmacy students, and social work students to go on home visits to provide care for patients who have recently returned from the hospital or may be at high risk to end up in a hospital. “I think one of the greatest things it does is it exposes us to different viewpoints from other professions because we all speak a slightly different language in medicine,” Colbey said. “And, it also brings the patient into a more confident, more comfortable setting which really helps us to bring them in as a part of a team experience.”
“I think one of the greatest things the Interprofessional Practice and Education program does is it exposes us to different viewpoints from other professions because we all speak a slightly different language in medicine.”
- Colbey Bowen
Pharmacy student, Manpreet Badwal, went with Colbey on this visit with Norma. She let Norma show her all her prescriptions and carefully categorized and explained what each one was.
“This is helping me to be a better pharmacist because it helps me practice the skills we learn in the classroom and use them in the real world,” said Manpreet.
Felix Hernandez, MD, is a retired cardiothoracic surgeon who runs the interprofessional practice program. He helped debrief Colbey and Manpreet after their home visit. He’s a staunch supporter of this approach to patient care. “When you combine many of these skill sets and many of these knowledge sets in the same room with the patient, you get what I call a synergy where the sum of the parts is bigger than just adding them up,” he said.
Dr. Hernandez gives Colbey high marks for reading his patient's nonverbal communication, and he says Manpreet did a great job preparing, asking good questions, and seeking feedback. “When you are with a team that’s firing on all cylinders, learn that, know that, see what that feels like. So, next time when you’re with another team not functioning on all cylinders, you recognize it and you can troubleshoot it,” said Dr. Hernandez.
Megan Foss, LMSW-CC, is a member of the Beacon Health Community Care Team that goes out on home visits and provides the same services that these students are learning through the interprofessional practice and education program. “Ultimately, this means better doctors, better pharmacists, better nurses, better social workers; it means better healthcare,” she said.
“Ultimately, this means better doctors, better pharmacists, better nurses, better social workers; it means better healthcare.”
- Megan Foss
Laurie Chadbourne, RN, a Community Care Team nurse, echoes those sentiments. “You can meet the patients where they are living. Sometimes, they can’t get out of their homes; so, I think it’s a very good benefit. We can make sure they have the resources they need, so they don’t get readmitted after they leave the hospital,” she said.
This way of delivering care to patients is a different approach than even some medical professionals were trained to provide. James Jarvis, MD, FAAFP, interim senior vice president and chief medical officer at Eastern Maine Medical Center, says the old way of doing things no longer makes sense. “Doctors were always trained by doctors, nurses by nurses, pharmacists by pharmacists, and social workers by social workers, but in practice, we work better as a team,” he said, adding that the changes that are happening are for the better.
“You can meet the patients where they are living. Sometimes, they can’t get out of their homes; so, I think it’s a very good benefit.”
- Laurie Chadbourne, RN
“We’ve already seen that this generation of resident physicians have no trouble calling up a pharmacist or a nurse on the floor to say, ‘I don’t really know what I’m supposed to be doing here. Can you help me?’ That never happened before. In my generation, a doctor could only talk to a doctor, and that is just wrong. And so this is much, much better care,” Dr. Jarvis continued.
And that is the ultimate goal of the program—to not only prepare the next generation of healthcare workers to work collaboratively, but to provide quality care to people where they are most comfortable—in their homes.