Interdisciplinary simulation aimed at helping students go beyond their field of study

Feb 09, 2021
health and education

A new simulation program will soon be available for Newman University students combining four different discipline areas.

The social work program is teaming up with the occupational therapy assistant (OTA) program, nursing and the School of Education to bring students a new experience that will help build collaboration skills and interdisciplinary knowledge.

Modeled after simulation programs at other universities, the Newman program will help students from each discipline learn more about the other disciplines and how their fields can intersect, said Jennifer Jones, Wichita Master of Social Work program coordinator.

OTA instructor Melissa Smith had reached out to Jones to ask if they did any types of simulation lessons. The social work program has been involved in simulations with the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita, but Smith and Jones decided they could create a simulation program using disciplines at Newman.

For example, Jones explained, “OTA can be in the school system, and with social work, professionals will often work with a teacher, an administrator or a school nurse. And so, we just kind of put it all together.”

Jones and Smith introduced the idea to Assistant Professor of Education Janet Jump and Assistant Professor of Nursing Amelia Hopper who were both very excited about the prospect of intermixing their students within other disciplines.

The program’s two-hour trial run is set for April 8, with plans to conduct the program once per semester after that.

During the simulation, a student representative from each discipline will talk about what they do and what they are learning. Then students will be divided into sections, or tables, with each discipline being represented in each group. The groups will be given a patient or client scenario and will work together to find a solution.

Jones said, “The goal is for them to learn from each other. It’s just a great way for them to collaborate because when they do get real jobs out in the field, they will always be collaborating with different disciplines for the benefit of the client or patient.”

She said they are only in the beginning stages of what they hope to be an amazing and successful program for students. Jones added that bringing in one other discipline is possible — theater students for role-playing.

“We’d love to pull in Mark Mannette (theater director) and his drama students and maybe see if we can have some actors playing those patient roles. It would certainly feel more like a real-life interaction.”

The students’ experience levels will benefit the simulations.

“We’ll have undergraduate and graduate students working together, so all sorts of different age ranges. Some of the graduate students will have already been working in their career field, which will bring that additional level of experience to the program for some of the younger students.”

But the benefits don’t end there.

Learning to work as an interdisciplinary team and gaining an understanding of other people’s scope of practice and their role are just a couple more benefits that come with this type of program.

“But even for our faculty, I feel like sometimes we get set in our own programs but we have all these great resources within each other that we just don’t use,” added Jones.