Team-based education helps future health professionals, research shows

Doctor looking at a patient surrounded by medical students.

“Team medicine is a concept that everyone—nurses, physicians and pharmacists—must employ in this day and age. Each health professional brings all of their knowledge, their specific understanding and training to the table, for the care of the patient,” said Jim Donovan, M.D., vice dean at the Texas A&M College of Medicine in Round Rock.

As research continues to show that issues with communication have a direct correlation with medical errors, interprofessional education, which is the method behind the team medicine approach to learning, is evolving as a medical education trend across the nation.

Traditionally, health professions curricula were taught in a fairly siloed approach, where students learned the fundamentals of a specific discipline, but gained limited knowledge of other’s functions in a real-world health care setting. Collaborative learning is aimed at breaking down those barriers and providing students with an understanding of the different training each profession undergoes, while simultaneously teaching students how to communicate clearly with one another.

Some lessons simply can’t be taught in the textbooks, like how to work together to improve patient outcomes.  Future Aggie health care professionals are being taught the collaborative real-world skills they need to excel before entering the workforce. “Frankly, medicine has always been a team sport,” said Donovan. “And the most effective physicians, nurses and pharmacists have always recognized the importance of working together. If they can’t practice as a team during education, how can we expect them to do that on real-world playing fields—hospitals and clinics around the nation?”

More at the Texas A&M Health Science Center