FUTURE NURSES AND DOCTORS train together in innovative shared curriculum

An innovative new curriculum at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa that brings future doctors and nurses together to train in patient safety is getting attention from other institutions around the country.

“Over the weekend, after the new colloquium was covered Friday in the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation News Digest, Dean (Mary) Boland began receiving inquiries from people who thought, ‘this is a great idea’”, said Stephanie Marshall, Director of Community Partnerships for the School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene (SONDH).

Joint training session in the JABSOM Auditorium

On November 7, 59 nursing students joined 66 first-year MD students at the John A. Burns School of Medicine (JABSOM) in side-by-side sessions illuminating how – if professionals at the patient’s bedside fail to communicate – the failure can lead to disaster.

The students watched videos with scenarios based on actual medical errors, which the U.S. Institute of Medicine estimates contribute to more than 50,000 deaths annually. In small group sessions afterward, they discussed what they’d seen.

“I could see how in chaotic emergency situations, it could happen,” said one nursing student, sounding genuinely troubled. “The patient could be given the wrong medication,” he said. “It’s scary and at the same time, seeing this helps me realize we have to be aware and take breaks to improve our concentration.”

Said another,  “It showed how patient care is a team effort and that communication is key.”

Melodee Deutsch, the nursing school’s Associate Director of Quality and Patient Safety, told the students that hospital settings can be chaotic, with situations changing from minute to minute.

“Just the average medication process involves 50 to 100 steps between the MD ordering the drug to when the patient gets it,” she told the students.

She went on to summarize research reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association advocating a change in the culture of medicine, which historically has been hierarchical.

“We have relied on people becoming experts and developing error-free performance,” she said, “unlike in the aviation and nuclear power industries,” where training to avoid mistakes is emphasized.

“Errors do happen, even among people who have the best of intentions,” Deutch told the students.

A small group discussion session involving nursing and MD students

The medical and nursing schools began the joint training sessions this past September.

“By learning together, doctors and nurses can improve their communication, trust and teamwork,” said Dr. Damon Sakai, JABSOM Director of Medical Education. “They can work together to find the root cause of errors and work collaboratively to make our patients safer.”

SONDH and JABSOM faculty members were joined by physicians and nurses from The Queen’s Medical Center, Hawai’i Pacific Health and Kaiser Permanente Hawai’i in the training sessions, located at the medical school’s Kaka’ako campus.

Featured Photo shows faculty of School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene and the John A. Burns School of Medicine, by Arnold Kameda. Story by Tina Shelton. 


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