Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Health sciences and paramedic students team up for better patient care

By Tamara Letkeman, doug Editor

An elderly woman falls at Douglas College. Health Care Support Worker students rush to her side, and soon paramedics are on the scene to treat the woman and take her safely to hospital, where she's attended to by ER nurses.

It's not exactly a plot line for Grey's Anatomy, but for Health Sciences students at Douglas and primary care paramedic students from the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC), it was an invaluable chance to learn how to collaborate in health emergencies and mental health crises.

For the first time in B.C., health sciences and paramedic students came together Nov. 22 to take part in simulations - the old woman was an actor and the health workers were students - designed to help them learn more about one another's roles and how they can better work together with the goal of providing safer, integrated and evidence-based care for patients.  

Kathy Harms, JIBC Paramedic Academy Program Director, notes that while paramedics have always collaborated with police and fire fighters in emergencies, collaboration between paramedics and other health workers has not been a priority. She says the joint simulation day will help paramedic students and health sciences students better understand each other's priorities and help them work together.

"What we noticed as we built the simulations is that the focus and priorities for paramedics were different from those of nurses and other health care providers," she says. "We want to bridge those gaps so that information is not lost, the patient story carries through and patient safety is enhanced."

Pamela Cawley, Dean of Health Sciences at Douglas College, says communication between different health workers is essential to patient safety.

"Without a clear and present mutual understanding between professions, patients may not receive the quality of care they deserve," she says. "This simulation exercise is designed to optimize professional interaction so students will understand different health care roles and how to best serve the patient community."

For more photos of the event, check out our Flickr album.