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August 24, 2015 This post is written by one of our Baycrest Centre for Learning, Research and Innovation in Long-Term Care (LRI) summer interns, as part of a reflective series. Read about the interns’ experiences on Twitter by following #LRIinternship2015.

For the first time in my education as a third year medical student, I had the opportunity to work intimately with an interprofessional team of students pursuing varied degrees in the health professions. During our 6-week internship at Baycrest, our group represented the next generation of professionals in the fields of medicine (4), nursing (1), kinesiology (1), nutrition (1), recreation therapy (1), speech language therapy (1) and pharmacy (1). The end result was an incredible and eye opening experience that fostered a culture of mutual respect and understanding between future healthcare professionals. 

The benefits of interprofessional education on caring for patients in health settings are well researched. Advantages of this approach include:

  • Mutual understanding, respect and empathy
  • A wider perspective and improved communication with the reciprocity of a ‘shared language’
  • Alliances between professional groups leading to greater influence and patient advocacy
  • Increased effectiveness and efficiency of care

One experience that was very profound occurred while I was shadowing the personal support workers (PSWs) who work in the Apotex, the long-term care home at Baycrest. Prior to this experience, I will confess I hadn’t often considered the contributions of PSWs. Now, I am awed by this group of individuals who are amazingly compassionate and knowledgeable. Especially in long-term care, PSWs truly know the residents the best and are great advocates for patient care. Clearly, PSWs provide a wealth of experience, knowledge and education. I believe that all healthcare students pursing roles in the care of the elderly should spend time with PSWs to appreciate their scope of practice.

I would have told you before entering this internship that I understood the roles of other members on a healthcare team. Thanks to my experiences at Baycrest, my perspective has grown and I now recognize that I have only explored the tip of the iceberg when it comes to interprofessional collaboration. 

Thank you so much to everyone at Baycrest and to my fellow interns for making the Baycrest CLRI summer internship so amazing!

—Baycrest LRI 2015 Summer Intern, Jasmine Mah, M.D. Candidate Class of 2017, University of Ottawa

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