29 Sep 2013
Learning beyond the boundaries
Tomorrow's Medicine, Issue 3 - October 2013
Inter-professional learning is changing the face of education in SingHealth.
Every day, patients’ lives are saved in our institutions, thanks to the availability of new, better treatments and healthcare professionals who are welltrained in the latest innovations in Medicine. But what may not be apparent to all is that it is always a team effort.
Only a multidisciplinary team can have such an impact on the care of a patient. Recognising that good team collaboration and communication are critical in enhancing continuity of care, improving clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction, the inaugural SingHealth Duke-NUS Education Conference, which ran from 15 to 17 August, placed inter-professional learning and collaboration in the spotlight.
Professor Chay Oh Moh, Director of Education at KKH Campus and Chairperson of the conference, said, “Focusing on inter-professional learning, the conference provided an excellent opportunity and platform for all healthcare professionals to come together and share best practices in clinical education with one another.”
Along with well-accomplished education partners SGH Postgraduate Medical Institute, SingHealth Alice Lee Institute of Advanced Nursing, SGH Postgraduate Allied Health Institute and the SingHealth Polyclinics Primary Care Medical Education, the education conference offered plenary sessions, workshops and discussions in two programme streams: educators and learners. Some 673 doctors, nurses and allied health professionals (AHPs) from various SingHealth institutions, including 293 residents, participated in the conference.
Prof Chay elaborated on why interprofessional collaboration was increasingly critical in today’s evolving healthcare landscape: “Healthcare has become much more complex, and there is no one person who can meet all the needs of a single patient. Working as a team to provide collaborative care is the way to go.”
Recent examples have shown positive outcomes. An initiative by nursing educators and medical specialists at KKH has resulted in the development of a new cadre of resident nurses, who have acquired competencies similar to those of junior doctors’. They are equipped with interview and history gathering skills, and are able to perform physical examinations as well as initiate investigations and management.
Inter-professional learning is also defining how knowledge is shared systematically throughout the cluster. For example, community outreach programmes on asthma are jointly organised by KKH and SGH with nurses leading the way. Nurses and AHPs are also imparting skills to medical trainees to help them in the clinical setting. Encouraging healthcare professionals to learn from one another also strengthens the culture of education in Medicine.
“From residents to nurses, everyone can teach and teach better. We teach our patients and we teach one another in the form of peer learning, which can be very effective,” Prof Chay said.
SingHealth’s Centre for Resident and Faculty Development (CRAFD) and its Residents as Future Teachers (RaFT) programme, a joint initiative with the Academic Medicine Education Institute, also aims to cultivate the spirit of education across the cluster in residents and faculty. CRAFD holds workshops such as Bedside Teaching and Giving Effective Feedback as part of RaFT.
As the practice of multidisciplinary care grows, inter-professional learning becomes necessary to address the gaps and keep patient care consistent across the board.
Prof Chay put it simply, “As medical subspecialties develop, there will be a concern with support services trying to keep pace. Having tighter communication and collaboration among the different professions and disciplines will ensure that patients receive the same quality of care from doctor to nurse to AHP.”