KCON attends international conference

Courtesy Photo / gvsu.edu
Cynthia McCurren, dean of KCON

Courtesy photo

Courtesy Photo / gvsu.edu Cynthia McCurren, dean of KCON

Dan Spadafora

In an effort to not only develop an interprofessional health curriculum but also interprofessional communication at the professional level, the Kirkhof College of Nursing, along with other professions at Grand Valley State University, attended the international conference “Collaborating Across Borders.”

“Collaborating Across Borders” was held for the third time since 2007 from Nov. 19-21, in Tucson, Ariz. With the U.S., Canada and, for the first time, Mexico represented among the about 760 people attending the conference, it was the largest “Collaborating Across Borders” turnout in its five-year history.

Goals of the conference were to explore methods into interprofessional education while providing a place for dialogue between educators, clinicians, researchers, policy makers and students from all fields in health professions.

“Traditionally we tend to always teach in silos and when students graduate and go out and work and take care of patients and populations they really don’t understand what each profession brings to the team,” said Cynthia McCurren, dean of KCON. “The whole premise of health care reform is we move to a much more team approach.”

The theme of this year’s conference, “Interprofessional Collaboration: From Concept to Preparation to Practice,” works to blur divisions in health professions. McCurren said this has been an effort GVSU has been chipping away at since 1999.

“This ‘Collaborating Across Borders’ is a good example of how some of the faculty have worked and presented at this conference together,” she said. “I just think it’s a really neat conference and innovative and I think we had substantial presence there. It shows what we are doing is recognized here.”

Along with making changes to the health curriculum and how classes will be taught with this interprofessional approach, the first interprofessional course is being developed by the KCON and the College of Health Professions. This is a two-credit course by health profession credit standards with one hour online and three hours in the classroom.

The course looks to grow and adapt by videotaping and reviewing those recordings of different heath profession students as they work together in the class. It is not available for enrollment yet, but the KCON and the College of Health Professions have conducted simulations in the development process.

Cindy Beel-Bates, associate professor of nursing who attended the conference in Arizona, said this idea of interprofessional courses and communication has been around since the ’70s but because of logistical reasons the idea did not evolve. Beel-Bates said technology is not allowing it to happen.

“Now because we have the ability to do asynchronous education we can overcome some of the barriers that have been there in the past to deliver interprofessional education,” she said.

One of the other professors that accompanied Beel-Bates to “Collaborating Across Borders” was Deborah Bambini, associate professor of nursing. Bambini said she wants students to gain an appreciation for different perspectives in different health professions while at the same time learn teamworking skills.

“I also want them to appreciate the uniqueness of their own profession as a vital part of the whole health care team,” she said. “We all have our own pieces of the pie but all together we make the whole pie and that is what drives good outcomes.”

Previous Collaborating Across Borders conferences have been held at Dalhousie University in 2009 and at the University of Minnesota in its inaugural year of 2007.

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