INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana University School of Dentistry and IU School of Nursing students at IUPUI are learning clinical skills together through a newly developed experiential interprofessional education and practice program.
Under the program, fourth-year dental students and final-year family and pediatric nurse practitioner students come together to learn assessments of the oral cavity and analysis of blood pressure and body mass index in pediatric patients.
As a means to diagnose chronic conditions such as dental cavities, hypertension and obesity in children, the students learn the relationship of oral and systemic health to one another.
The program was developed in response to dentists and nurse practitioners being asked to expand their respective scopes of practice. Two dental school faculty, Dr. Joan Kowolik and Dr. Richard Jackson, and two nursing school faculty, Kathleen Kent and Carol Clark, developed the experiential learning opportunity with support from the IUPUI Center for Teaching and Learning.
The 69 participating students were divided into teams consisting of one dental student and one nurse practitioner student who worked together to assess the oral cavity, blood pressure and body mass index in a group of children who volunteered to be examined. The unique aspect of these teams was that the students taught each other with minimal faculty intervention.
Students reported feeling that they came away from the experience with new clinical skills and a better understanding of the work performed by the other profession. They also expressed a desire for an expansion of this activity to encompass further opportunities to learn from one another as part of their formal curriculum.