The University of Arizona Health Sciences Interprofessional Program held the annual statewide Interprofessional Public Preparedness Exercise on Oct. 16. This year’s exercise challenged UA health professions, law and social work students, including all third-year COP students, to tackle the logistical and ethical problems of a simulated Ebola outbreak while collaborating across professions.
More than 400 students, plus 27 faculty facilitators, from the UA as well as Arizona State University and Western Arizona Area Health Education Centers, took part.
“I always appreciate these types of events because they provide us with the opportunity to work with medical and nursing students in a small team, which allows us to learn more about our programs and what we’re capable of helping each other with,” comments PharmD student Mika Jankowski.
“I am also a big believer in the idea that preparing us for certain events before they happen will provide us with skills on how to approach an outbreak or disaster without substantial delay or anxiety. I really appreciate that our program helps to coordinate such meaningful events that will certainly help us in the future.”
Participants were split into groups “representing” eight Arizona rural and urban communities for the simulation. The groups, spread throughout the state, communicated using video conferencing technology. Throughout the three phases of the simulation – Initial Cases, The Epidemic Grows and Control and Recovery – participants discussed various disaster scenarios. In the process of addressing the simulated Ebola outbreak, they learned about challenges such as preparedness, the responsibilities of different professionals and the importance of teamwork in managing an outbreak of disease.
“The simulated disease outbreak event is designed to teach and reinforce quality, safety and effectiveness through interprofessional teamwork,” says Sally Reel, associate vice president for interprofessional education, collaborative practice and community engagement, who is the exercise’s faculty chair.
“The purpose is to understand how collaboration and teamwork improve the effectiveness of health care in an emergency, and explore ethical and public health issues involved in allocating limited resources in the face of overwhelming need.”