Students interprofessional work guide course improvements, recognition

October 25, 2022
Fourth-year College of Medicine student Nestor Worobetz presented his research at the 2022 Nexus Summit event. Photo Provided

What happens after a medical student, during the COVID-19 pandemic, successfully completes a required interprofessional (IP) course on campus and later shares his experience and feedback with leaders? For one thing, valuable improvements are made to the course, allowing other MUSC students to gain useful knowledge on their journeys to becoming future health care practitioners, not to mention taking a leadership role at a national conference.


That was the experience of Nestor Worobetz, a fourth-year College of Medicine student. As part of MUSC’s emphasis on IP education, students take 2 required courses through the Office of Interprofessional Initiatives. These courses provide opportunities for two or more professions of students to learn with, about and from each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes.


Months after taking one of these courses, and following a personal interest in collaborating on important research projects with colleagues across the institution, Worobetz was invited to present his findings at a poster session at the annual 2022 Nexus Summit conference held in August in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Worobetz’ story began in fall of 2020 when he registered for the IP course on Emergency Management for Healthcare Professionals. The class emphasized emergency preparedness and response management during man-made and natural disasters and emergencies. It focused on how health care teams can prepare an organized emergency action plan while merging health care system operations for emergency response. Participating students were invited to earn Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) incident management system certifications as part of the experience. Worobetz was among the second cadre of students to participate in this class.


“I saw lots of real-life, relatable applications and situations that I hadn’t previously encountered in my medical school training. I found the course to be enlightening and satisfying in the material covered as well as the opportunity to collaborate an interdisciplinary group of students and work specifically on quality-improvement efforts,” said Worobetz.


But the faculty for the course realized that this IP course clearly needed some tweaking.


By May of 2021, the course’s instructors, Erik Modrzynski, system director of MUSC Health Ambulatory EHS and Emergency Management and Mary P. Mauldin, Ed.D., professor emerita and former executive director of the Office of Instructional Technology and Faculty Resources at MUSC, were concerned about decreased quality improvement rankings and satisfaction scores from participating students.


To turn things around, the instructors invited students to share their class improvement suggestions. More than a dozen or more students met with Modrzynski and Mauldin to provide course feedback.


“We received valuable feedback from participating students. However, it was also a great opportunity for students to help in redesigning this course – if anyone could do it, we knew the students would be the best resource. Their input and effort gave us a chance to collaborate with students where they shared their opinions, learned about IP course design and strategy while helping us find solutions. Also for the student, it was a chance for them to do scholarship and research as it relates to course redesign involvement. The students put in a lot of work into this, and Erik and I were really happy about it,” said Mauldin.


Another critical takeaway from the feedback sessions was the students’ concerns about the number of assigned projects since each assignment required group work when all students were participating during the pandemic when no classes were held in-person.


Because of the campus’s early emphasis on IP education, students are already introduced to collaborative teams and training through Interprofessional Day, special projects and campus programs. These types of collective activities lead to increased student involvement, better learning and overall student satisfaction. It’s incredibly important to the student experience according to Mauldin.


Worobetz was particularly drawn to quality-improvement efforts related to student satisfaction scores. He helped to gather data from each semester’s class quality-improvement scores, which included fall 2020 and spring 2021, compared it and shared those conclusions with Modrzynski and Mauldin. The team realized that if they could collect data and make changes to improve this class, why couldn’t they apply this method to improve other IP elective classes across the enterprise?


Worobetz and the course instructors also concluded that better communication and more student involvement with interdisciplinary groups would lead to better learning and affect improvements in overall student satisfaction as well as affect an instructor’s performance.


In August, he attended the Nexus Summit Conference where he presented a poster in the professional category – a huge honor demonstrating Worobetz’ high quality of work.  Worobetz has also written a manuscript that has been submitted for peer review with the goal of publication in a professional journal.


“It’s been an amazing experience,” said Worobetz, who is currently preparing for fourth-year residency interviews, where he hopes to match and specialize in plastic surgery. “Hopefully, I’ve set the research groundwork for this course for student feedback and satisfaction and IP course improvement at MUSC moving forward. Teamwork with this experience was so important – together everyone achieves more.”