Student pharmacists work across disciplines to solve complex patient cases

Third-year Doctor of Pharmacy student Emma Morgan was on the winning team in the International Interprofessional Case Competition.

Working with future physicians, nurses, and health care providers across disciplines is a vital part of the WSU Doctor of Pharmacy program. It prepares student pharmacists for a real world setting where they may be collaborating with providers on the best plan of action for unique patient situations. For example, how does one treat a 72-year-old patient who is recovering from prostate cancer and living with type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis?

“When students are thrusted into real-life situations where they must work with other health care providers—not just across disciplines, but also across cultures, it gives them a chance to put into practice what they learn in class,” said WSU Pharmacotherapy Professor Megan Willson.

This cross-collaboration was displayed last month when students from 30 institutions across 6 countries split into five teams to create a plan of action for a patient case in the first ever International Interprofessional Case Competition. Along with five students from Washington State University, teams across time zones and countries from the United Arab Emirates to the United States, competed in teams to present their recommendations on treating a patient case to judges.

“This was such a unique opportunity because it was an accurate representation of what it will be like working interprofessionally once we graduate,” noted Emma Morgan, a third-year pharmacy student at Washington State University’s Doctor of Pharmacy program. “The time zone differences presented a unique challenge but we were able to communicate well and collaborate with each other to create a well-rounded treatment plan. The patient case was very complicated, and I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my team!”

The five teams had to create a 15-minute video of their plan to care for the patient as well as a short reflection on how the team overcame challenges of working interprofessionally and internationally. Faculty from five different institutions judged each team’s submissions and then interviewed each team for fifteen minutes about their approach to each case.

“I’m very proud of all students who took part in this competition. It was clear that they learned a lot from this experience and understood the value of patient-centered care,” said Willson who was also one of the judges for the competition.