when students should be trained interprofessionally. Should the exposure take place early in students’ education, or all throughout their curriculum? From Zierler’s perspective, how much IPE a student requires in order for the student to demonstrate proficiency differs with each individual and is based on the individual’s personality; some students naturally collaborate well before even entering their health professional specialty.
For this exercise, it was important that each student came with the same knowledge base so the didactic session and online training about teamwork and communication was key to ensuring an equal understanding of the issues.
Finally, from doing the different types of assessment, Zierler learned that assessing teams and assessing communication are very difficult to do. The team might perform well, but there may have been one individual who did not communicate well, which complicates the assessment process. But, as Zierler pointed out, that is real life. She and her colleagues are providing a safe environment where students can experience such real-life situations so that when they are confronted with similar scenarios in practice, decisions can be made that decrease the likelihood of medical errors.
THE MESSINESS OF ASSESSING TEAMS
Forum Co-Chair Jordan Cohen from George Washington University began the question-and-answer session by asking about the unit of accountability; his understanding is that it would be the individual’s skills that are involved in communication and interprofessional teamwork. The assumption, he said, is that if those skills are learned and adequately assessed, the team will perform its appropriate functions when it comes together, and this would lead to the better outcomes—namely, better patient care. He then asked whether or not that assumption is validated; that is, are there ways to assess the team performance in terms of how the team actually produces the desired outcomes?
Baker responded that measuring team skills are clearly more complicated than measuring individual skills. For example, in assessing team leadership, there is an assumption that the physician is the leader, but when raters were trained using the T-TPOT (their assessment tool for their trauma study using simulation to measure patient outcomes), they found that leadership could be evidenced by any team member. For their study, they looked at the team’s plan of care. The plan may change and might even require continuous updating; Baker then asked, is this the responsibility of the team leader, or can any team member update the care plan? He added that in his work, they trained raters to focus on the behavior of the team and not the individual.