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UT Austin Receives Professional Nursing Education Award: New curriculum promotes collaborative competencies and successful outcomes

Posted: Sept. 26, 2018

Students from Nursing, Pharmacy, Medicine and Social Work collaborate on a patient case.

The University of Texas at Austin has received the 2018 American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Innovations in Professional Nursing Education Award in recognition of innovations in interprofessional (IP) education. The award recognizes that the UT Austin School of Nursing has met the ongoing challenge of providing large-scale, sustained, high-quality, team-based interprofessional education through the Foundations of Interprofessional Collaborative Practice (FICP) course. The course has served over 600 students from four professions, comprising nursing, medicine, pharmacy, and social work, since its inception two years ago.

This prestigious award recognizes the outstanding work of AACN member schools to re-envision traditional models for nursing education and lead programmatic change, in this case in the area of interprofessional education.

In 2013, the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration Advanced Nursing Education Program awarded a three-year $1 million grant to Gayle Timmerman, PhD, RN, CNS, FNAP, FAAN, at the School of Nursing to enhance the Adult-Gerontology Clinical Nurse Specialist curriculum for the purpose of providing comprehensive, evidence-based care of persons with multiple chronic conditions in underserved populations using interprofessional team-based care. In collaboration with medicine, pharmacy and social work, the School of Nursing strengthened its IP education experiences and developed online training videos for IP competencies that can be widely used by others to promote team-based care.

“Nursing has been one of the key leaders in IP education on the UT Austin campus. The nursing perspective, like the other professions, plays a vital role in the design and implementation of interprofessional curriculum. When we envisioned incorporating IPE as a required course for the undergraduate nursing program, we understood that collaboration was key to delivering the safe, high-quality, accessible, person-centered care that we all want,” Dr. Timmerman said. “The synergism created by the four health profession programs coming together with a common purpose of improving safety and patient-centered care through collaboration has provided unparalleled opportunities for innovation and excellence in IP education.”

Left to Right: IPE faculty leaders John Luk, MD; Veronica Young, PharmD, MPH;
Barbara Jones, PhD, MSW; and Gayle Timmerman, PhD, RN, CNS, FNAP, FAAN.

The award-winning FICP course designed and taught by faculty leaders Gayle Timmerman; Barbara Jones, PhD, MSW (the Steve Hicks School of Social Work); John Luk, MD (the Dell Medical School); and Veronica Young, PharmD, MPH (College of Pharmacy) has transformed and improved the delivery of health care education by preparing students to effectively lead and contribute to team-based care through hands-on activities and simulations designed to provide students with opportunities to develop IP collaborative practice competencies.

“In addition to fostering collaboration, this course structure provides a unique opportunity to gather feedback from IP education faculty facilitators after each class for rapid cycle improvement,” Dr. Timmerman said. “The ability to make immediate changes based on this feedback and to evaluate the changes made maximizes the quality of the educational experience as compared to traditional end-of-course feedback.”

The FICP course focuses on application of the IP competencies using activities that address topics such as team error disclosure, team-based palliative care and addiction care. Emphasis is on active learning strategies such as a simulated discharge-planning meeting. Within that activity, students learn more about the individual professional roles and responsibilities of all team members and practice IP communication.

“We have found that the advancement of professional nursing education requires greater focus on IP instruction to meet the increasingly complex needs of our patients and to ensure safety and quality of care,” said Alexa Stuifbergen, dean of the School of Nursing. “By providing hands-on experience for interprofessional teams, this course is developing collaborative competencies and successful outcomes in an unprecedented manner. Because of it, our nurses and their counterparts in social work, medicine and pharmacy can walk into any new clinical situation confident that their collaborative skills and knowledge will make them better providers and help transform health care.”

The AACN, which has a membership of more than 800 baccalaureate and graduate schools of nursing, will host an award ceremony during the Academic Nursing Leadership Conference. This award reflects UT Austin’s alignment with the AACN’s mission and vision of transforming health care and improving health.

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