Engaging partners in a project to embed the patient/carer experience in interprofessional education at Memorial.
The patient/carer perspective is identified by Memorial’s health and social care professional students and faculty as a key aspect of professional training that is largely missing from the classroom. Professional training programs teach ABOUT patients but not WITH them. The Centre for Collaborative Health Professional Education (CCHPE) has identified the need to have the patient/carer role more central to interprofessional education (IPE) - a component of health/social professional training in which respect for the contribution of the patient/carer is a key focus. Although CCHPE has increasingly incorporated more of the patient/carer voice in training, the literature and feedback from students suggests CCHPE needs to more fully integrate patients/carers into IPE.
Our plan is to invite patients/carers to join small interprofessional student teams in the role of ‘health mentor’. The most obvious benefit is to the students who gain experiential learning about how to respectfully and collaboratively work with patients as part of their teams. However, by completing this program, health mentors can also be empowered to actively participate in the collaborative health/social care system when seeking treatment for themselves or their family members. This empowerment has the potential to apply to any illness or condition the health mentor may experience.
Accomplishing this goal will require contributions from a committed network of stakeholder partners external to the university. This network includes health/social service providers and community agencies and their patients/carers who might serve as project advisers and/or health mentors. The engagement of students and faculty members from participating schools/faculties is also critical to the project’s success.
As an important first step, and with funding support from the Public Engagement Fund's Quick Start award, stakeholders from all these sectors met on October 25th, 2017 to discuss the benefits and challenges of a health mentors program at Memorial. At this kick-off meeting, we agreed that this health mentors program was feasible and worth developing together. The group also agreed to move ahead with writing a proposal for funding from another source; as of January 2018, that funding proposal is being developed with input from stakeholders, including patients and clients who could someday be health mentors themselves.