Cosette Kathawa

My team was at Neighborhood Family Practice and we primarily worked with patients who have diabetes that is not well-controlled. The team consisted of myself, a nurse practitioner student, a physician assistant student, a social work student and a dental student, and we would split off into pairs to talk with patients about their diabetes, nutrition, and other topics related to their ability to access their medications, food, transportation, etc. Once we had spoken to a patient, we would come back and discuss the patient as a group, and assess whether they had any needs that someone in the group could discuss with them; for example, if the patient had dental concerns, we would send in our dental student to talk with them.

Learning how to create positive work environments and solve interpersonal issues quickly is vital to providing safe, quality care to patients. As healthcare professionals, it is easy to isolate ourselves from our colleagues from other professions, and to denigrate the important work that these colleagues do. When we have a better understanding of what other professions actually do and how they can enhance the care that we provide (and how to ask for their help), our patients are safer and have more of their needs met. Furthermore, it just makes sense to have respect for and trust the people that work alongside us, so any opportunity to make connections and build that trust is helpful.

Dr. (Ellen) Luebbers, who organizes the ILEAP program alongside faculty from the other professional schools, is also one of our faculty advisors for the Student-Run Clinic, and I think she is always looking for ways to give us better, more realistic interprofessional experiences.