Medical and Nursing Students Tackle Flu Season Together

Posted in GUMC Stories

SEPTEMBER 26, 2014 — Underscoring Georgetown’s ongoing commitment to interprofessional education, Georgetown University School of Medicine (new window) and the School of Nursing & Health Studies (new window) have teamed up in preparation for this year’s flu season.

Senior nursing majors led a flu vaccination workshop Sept. 17 to teach 20 second-year medical students how to administer the vaccine in preparation for upcoming flu clinics held around campus this fall.

To kick off the workshop, the students were reminded by faculty that the flu clinics are not just about the vaccines, but about interprofessional collaborative practice (IPCP) and learning how to work together more effectively. They were also introduced to the four IPCP domans: values and ethics, roles and responsibilites, interprofessional communication, team and teamwork.

The nursing students provided general information and addressed commonly asked patient questions and myths about the vaccine. In small groups, nursing students demonstrated safe intramuscular (IM) injections and then assisted the medical students with hands-on-training using practice pads.

Nursing students traditionally learn how to administer IM injections in their sophomore year and begin working in flu clinics during their junior year, says Michaela Locke (NHS’15).

“Our role as nursing students in this workshop was to similarly do what our nursing instructors have done for us: share what we have learned with others so that more people can safely and effectively care for patients,” says Locke.

Each medical student walked away from the workshop with a new skill.

“One of the biggest lessons I took away was the importance of identifying the correct injection site and using anatomical landmarks to avoid injecting too high or low on the arm,” says Kelly Smith (M’17).

Bridging the Divide

Interprofessional education and collaborative practice are likely to become the norm in U.S. health care; the Affordable Care Act contains specific provisions for its adoption in the health professions.

“As we move toward more and more interprofessional care, our students will lead us increasingly toward interprofessional education,” say Stephen Ray Mitchell, MD, MBA (new window), dean for medical education at the School of Medicine. “After over 150 years at the School of Medicine and over 100 years at the School of Nursing & Health Studies, we should find ourselves united as always around the patient.”

While they are trained separately, medical and nursing students must learn how to work side-by-side if they are to prepare for real-world clinical scenarios. When they do have the opportunity to train together, the experience is invaluable.

“We know the evidence shows that when nurses and physicians work together collaboratively, patient’s outcomes and satisfaction improve,” says Susan Coleman, MPH, BSN, RN (new window), an adjunct professor in the department of nursing who served as a faculty leader for the vaccine workshop. “We can’t expect the disciplines to work well together if they haven’t experienced interprofessional collaboration during their education.”

Smith echoes that these types of experiences set the tone for future patient care interactions.

“Workshops of this kind, and any type of scenario that allows us to train together, provide a foundation for us to begin establishing collaborative relationships and highlight the benefits of working together and how much we can learn from each other,” says Smith.  

An Idea Coming to Fruition

The idea for the collaborative workshop came from medical student Paul Gallo, RN (M’16).

Gallo received his bachelor’s degree in nursing and his RN license before coming to Georgetown for medical school. As a nursing student, he was involved in a campus-wide flu vaccine program and found it to be a valuable educational opportunity. He wanted to bring that experience to Georgetown.

He linked up with Coleman, and together they built the team that would lead the flu vaccine workshop.

“I see myself as a moderator between both professions,” Gallo says. “I can see the multiple educational opportunities they have to offer each other at the student level and above.”

Gallo and Coleman formed a team consisting of second-year medical student Steph Mazur (M’17); Jean Farley, MSN, RN, CPNP (new window), assistant professor of nursing; Bhumika Gandhi, MD, assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics; and Sarah Kureshi, MD, MPH (new window), assistant professor in family medicine.

With faculty supervision, medical and nursing students will volunteer at flu vaccine clinics across campus in October and November.

By Sarah Reik
GUMC Communications