Kelly Gallagher, who is earning dual master's degrees in social work and public health, took a required course on the importance of and strategies for successful team-based healthcare in her first semester at Case Western Reserve University. Although Kelly's career path was already focused on healthcare, her eyes were opened to new possibilities after learning more about interprofessional work. Scott Wilkes, associate dean at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, encouraged her to dive deeper into interprofessional training by applying for a spot in ILEAP, a program for nursing, social work, dentistry, PA and medical students. Working as a team, ILEAP students gain clinical experience while building teamwork and leadership skills.
"I learned how useful and important social work is in the emergency room, which was not something I had experience with before. I also got a deeper understanding of how important interdisciplinary work is to help provide the best patient care, and how social work fits into that model. The Cleveland Clinic team we worked with was very supportive and encouraging of our team which I think bodes well for the future of interdisciplinary care in the healthcare system and made our time there enjoyable."
Kelly's team worked in the Emergency Department in the Clinical Decision Unit at the Cleveland Clinic, which afforded them plenty of face-to-face time with patients and a wide variety of medical cases.
Students in the program during Spring 2017 followed a rotation that had them spending one afternoon a week for two weeks in their assigned clinical setting, followed by a class session to debrief and problem-solve, then returning to the clinical setting to repeat the rotation. The time spent outside the clinical setting focused on how to function and work well as a team.
"During the large group meetings we really focused on communication. Our team developed a good system of trying not to talk in our specific 'clinical jargon' and make sure we explained anything to our fellow team members if we didn't understand something about the other discipline. I think our team's openness with each other helped us understand how we can support each other with patient care in our future careers."