Interprofessional Spotlight: Student Governance Committee

Students advance interprofessional education through Student Governance Committee

Part of the ethos behind the creation of the Health Education Campus was to develop an interprofessional community among health sciences students. Healthcare professionals increasingly work within robust multidisciplinary teams, and the Interprofessional Student Governance Committee (SGC) is yet another way students can foster this team-based environment.

The committee brings together students from all health science disciplines—medicine, nursing, dental medicine and social work—to advocate for their peers for issues pertaining to the Health Education Campus (HEC) and coordinate interprofessional programming activities.

C. Ramsey Kenney, a third-year Doctor of Dental Medicine student, has served as a representative on the SGC since fall 2019.

“There are so many issues that affect more than one program, and having a space to discuss these occurrences involving individuals from all the different programs is invaluable,” she said.

Carter Powers, a second-year student in Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, has served as a SGC representative since the start of the academic year. He sought out the role to learn more about the individual experiences of students across each program.

“I’ve always been a big proponent of working together and learning from people who have different roles from yourself,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to learn not only what they do for their professions but what their training programs look like in the HEC and how we can collaborate with them and make sure we have a good environment for all programs.”

Anna Tuttle, a SGC representative from the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, said the university’s focus on interprofessional education has guided her to think more critically about her role in the healthcare system.

“It has encouraged me to be more vocal when advocating for my patients with other members of the interdisciplinary hospital teams,” she said. “It has also given me a greater appreciation for the roles and responsibilities of each member of the healthcare team.”

Committee representatives Erin Sullivan, an M2 in Lerner College, and Abdul Jaafar, a second-year dental student, said the committee has been a great way to meet students from other programs and break out of the school-specific silos. Both highlighted community events, like coffee hours before final exams and trivia nights, as fun, interactive events that engage students.

“I see the main role of the SGC to be one body where the different schools can come together and discuss issues that impact all of us as students,” Sullivan said.

Jaafar said that being on the committee has pushed him to look for opportunities for multidisciplinary collaboration. One area he’s interested in exploring is curriculum timing.

“I had a med student friend call me and say, ‘Hey man, wish me luck we’re about to take a head and neck anatomy exam,’” Jaafar said. “And as a dental student, I was thinking that we took our head and neck anatomy exams last semester. The discrepancy is just a few months.”

Though not applicable to all content, Jaafar said, if possible, timing classes that present similar concepts across schools could present students with more interprofessional opportunities such as multidisciplinary study groups. 

Kenney said the university’s focus on interprofessional education has influenced her academic career at CWRU.

“I definitely have had more exposure to working on a healthcare team during my first two didactic years at Case Western Reserve,” she said. “This has given me the confidence to converse with other medical professionals regarding my patients’ cases while in the clinic.”

Kenney encourages students looking to become more involved with interprofessional education events and initiatives to look for notices in The Huddle and around the Health Education Campus.