Each year, hundreds of graduate-level health sciences students benefit from attending an innovative interprofessional education (IPE) forum focused on scleroderma in Albany, New York. The patient-centered IPE has become a model for provider education and is made possible by a partnership among the Steffens Scleroderma Foundation, Sage Colleges Health Sciences, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and Dr. Lee Shapiro’s Scleroderma Center at Albany Medical College.
The goals of the IPE are to reduce the time to diagnosis and improve the quality of care for scleroderma patients. Since scleroderma is a rare disease with variable symptoms that can potentially impact several different parts of the body (skin, lungs, vascular, gastrointestinal, kidney, and heart), it’s difficult to diagnoses and treat. The IPE provides an introduction to the disease with the hope that no patients are greeted with a blank stare when mentioning their diagnosis to a healthcare professional.
Photo credit: Tamara Hansen, The Sage Colleges, courtesy of Ruckert Advertising & Public Relations’ Facebook page
Each IPE includes students from five health-professional schools at Sage Colleges (occupational therapy, physical therapy, nursing, nutrition and psychology) and pharmacy students from the Albany College of Pharmacy—a total of about 200 students at each IPE. A unique feature of this IPE is the participation of about 30 patients with scleroderma. Each patient is assigned to a team of multi-discipline health professional students. The students and patients actively engage in an open conversation to understand the needs of the patient and the potential benefits of a discipline within the healthcare team.
Additional elements of the IPE include a patient keynote speaker, an expert panel that fields student participant questions, and a panel of students who question the patient-keynote speaker, with their interview questions reviewed/critiqued by the coordinator of the Patient Simulation Program at Albany Medical College. The partnership presented its third Scleroderma IPE Forum on November 4, 2019 at The Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences gymnasium. The feedback from both students and patient participants has been extremely positive.
The IPE is believed to be the first scleroderma educational experience of its kind that includes patient participation. There are about 45 Scleroderma Centers in the United States and there is interest in providing it as a “best practice" model that might be established at other centers.
Students who continue to work with Steffens Scleroderma Foundation research projects.
To register for the event, go to: https://scleroderma.org/national-conference/
On April 13, 2022, our 5th successful IPE event was conducted virtually. In attendance were an estimated 207 students representing 8 different healthcare disciplines (OT, PT, Nutrition, Nursing, Public Health, Pharmacy, Medicine, and Psychology). There were 26 patient participants, an expert panel made up of 7 practicing health-care professionals, as well as up to 30 additional healthcare providers as observers.
New collaborations in this year’s forum included students from North Carolina’s Wingate University School of Pharmacy, the Dermatology Interest Group (DIG) from Albany Medical College, and the University of Albany School of Public Health.
Patients were from widespread, diverse regions of New York State, (Lake George, NYC, Wells, Syracuse, Rochester, West Seneca, Queensbury, Henrietta, Scotia, Queensbury, Niskayuna, and Syracuse). Additional patient participants were from 6 different states (Massachusetts, Vermont, Ohio, Hawaii, and Florida).
To date, as a result of our IPE’s, over 1000 emerging health care professionals are entering into their field of expertise with an increased awareness of Scleroderma and its need for specialized treatment. There is potential interest in the replication of the IPE in the format as we have presented it. IPE’s have become considered best practice in academic institutions across the country. However, the unique and impactful component of Scleroderma patient participants as educators in an IPE event is not practiced by any other academic institution to our knowledge. There have been inquiries in New York State as well as 4 other states and possibly Canada, to explore duplication of our IPE design in their area.
The Steffens Scleroderma Foundations would like to extend our ongoing appreciation of your interest and past participation in our educational event(s). Thank you again for your ongoing support and participation in sharing your experiences with future healthcare professionals. Please email Michelle Morgan, firstname.lastname@example.org, directly if you would like to be involved in our next IPE event (date TBD).