Students from A.T. Still University’s School of Osteopathic Medicine in Arizona (ATSU-SOMA) and ATSU’s Arizona School of Health Sciences (ATSU-ASHS) occupational therapy (OT) program recently participated in an interprofessional education event at the University’s Standardized Patient Center. The purpose of the event was to raise awareness among medical students about the breadth of areas that occupational therapists address with patients.
ATSU-SOMA students participated in a number of simulations, assuming a disability using the age-simulation GERonTologic simulator (GERT) suits. The medical students were then introduced to OT interventions that would remediate the issue or teach compensatory methods to increase the patient’s independence.
For example, at one station, ATSU-SOMA students were asked to eat cereal out of a bowl with a regular spoon while wearing tremor-simulation gloves. The gloves simulate the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and age-related tremors. They are also used to emulate diabetic neuropathy. OT students then showed the medical students how they could eat independently using adaptive stemware.
“Our students reported that this has been one of their most meaningful IPE experiences,” says Natasha Smet, OTD, OTR/L, assistant professor of OT. “It was well-planned, fun, and collaborative. As an educator, it was wonderful to see the students lead this event and apply what they learned from their coursework. I chuckled when I heard one of the OT students say, ‘Please don’t forget OT when it comes to those referrals!’”
“The medical students learned a lot,” says Lorree Ratto, PhD, director of medical simulation and standardized patients. “Not only did they learn what OT provides patients in terms of rehabilitation services, they really got a grasp of the challenges disabled patients face when going through rehabilitation. They came away with a very thorough understanding of the benefits of OT for their future patients.”
“Key to the event’s success was giving OT students the freedom to make it about what they wanted ATSU-SOMA students to know,” adds Michael Gerg, DOT, OTR/L, CHT, CEES, CWCE, assistant professor of occupational therapy. “They demonstrated how OT intervention can make a big impact on a patient’s performance of everyday activities. Both groups of students came away energized.”