Students, faculty honored for dedication to interprofessional education at WVU Health Sciences

In recognition of their commitment to developing a collaborative approach to patient-centered care, the West Virginia University Health Sciences Office of Interprofessional Education has named an IPE Student Innovation Challenge team and faculty member Anna Lama, Ed.D., as recipients of the 2024 Award for Excellence in Interprofessional Education. The honor, presented in collaboration with WVU Libraries, is awarded annually as part of WVU’s Interprofessional Education Week to acknowledge the dedication of students, faculty and staff to interprofessional education through their service, teaching and scholarly work and to highlight their achievements.

The IPE Student Innovation Challenge team, comprised School of Dentistry and School of Medicine students Chance Brown, Payten Brown, Kamryn Jefferson, Blair Lewis, Kara Lobban and Ryan Massinople, were honored with the award for their project titled “5% Sodium Fluoride Varnish to Promote Caries Reduction for Pediatric Oncology Patients.” The group focused on achieving three goals through the development of a didactic lecture, design of a simulation experience, interprofessional scholarly activity, community outreach, student leadership opportunities and promotion of interprofessional education.

“Now, more than ever, we have the ability to provide services that were once limited to fewer scopes of practice,” Lobban, a student in the dental hygiene program, said. “This interprofessional approach benefits our patients because we are working together to give them the access and ability to receive services that they may not receive on their own. Children undergoing oncology treatment can now still receive preventive oral health measures even though they are not at the dental office.”

Throughout the process, the students worked with mentors Elizabeth Southern Puette, assistant professor in the Department of Dental Hygiene, Dr. Gina Graziani, associate dean for postdoctoral affairs and chair of the Department of Pediatric Dentistry, Dr. Juan Bugueno, oral medicine specialist and associate professor in the Department of Diagnostic Sciences, and Ashley Kitzmiller, nurse coordinator in the Department of Pediatrics Section of Hematology-Oncology.

“It has been so important to work with students from other disciplines throughout my educational experience because I have learned how much goes into patient care and how other disciplines help to provide the optimal level of care,” Lobban added. “I have built relationships with multiple disciplines and will feel comfortable calling them for their knowledge and help.”

This year’s faculty award, presented to Lama, assistant professor in the Department of Medical Education, recognizes successful student teaching programs.

group of university medical students
Student teachers in the Medical Students as Educators rotation and Medical Student Co-Facilitator Pipeline Program gain valuable interprofessional education experience through innovative teaching methodologies and mentorship.

Lama’s projects, a teaching rotation titled Medical Students as Educators and an IPE recruitment project named the Medical Student Co-Facilitator Pipeline Program, focus on enriching the educational experience for participants and advancing interprofessional education through innovative teaching methodologies and mentorship.

Medical Students as Educators is a 9-month rotation that supports fourth-year medical students in their transition to first-year residents who teach others. The rotation consists of three components – learning modules on pedagogy and assessment, active observations of expert educators teaching and student teaching field experiences, including a virtual experience focused on interprofessional education.

The projects incorporate a variety of educational approaches, from interactive lectures to simulation modules on the Eastern and Charleston campuses. The ‘NeuroPatientDay’ event, designed for first-year medical students, enriches the learning experience by bringing together students, faculty and residents as well as patients who serve as educators. Many of these projects have seamlessly integrated into the WVU School of Medicine curriculum. Additionally, problem-based learning cases have been developed for high school students at Man High School in West Virginia.

“Since the inception in 2019, the Medical Students as Educators program has witnessed the involvement of 71 medical student teachers who have spearheaded remarkable educational teaching initiatives,” Lama said. “The involvement of such projects offers enhanced learning experiences across various health sciences programs, promoting patient-centered learning and integrating experiential learning through classroom and clinic teaching. It's truly gratifying to see the student teachers adopt educator perspectives as they become the future generation of physician educators. I’m very proud of each MSaE student teacher who completes my program.”

The Medical Student Co-Facilitator Pipeline Program provides initial support, including basic teaching skills and role expectations, that enables medical students to understand the requirements of interprofessional education facilitation. Following the program, students are prepared to lead learning experiences alongside expert faculty.

“The Pipeline Program has proven to be a valuable addition to the WVU interprofessional education initiative,” Lama said. “By pairing medical students passionate about teaching, ranging from second to fourth-year students, with experienced faculty members, we've cultivated a truly collaborative learning atmosphere in both in-person and online learning environments. I think this team-based approach allows learners and educators to see how much each profession can uniquely contribute to patient care. This program's success is a testament to the collaborative endeavors across health sciences, engaging IPE faculty, students and administrative staff.”

Award recipients will be recognized at a special ceremony during Interprofessional Education Week, April 8-12. The Health Sciences community is invited to watch the ceremony presentations on Monday, April 8, at noon via Zoom. Their work will also be showcased in the WVU Health Sciences Center Library during the fall 2024 semester.

Pictured above: Students Kara Lobban, Blair Lewis, Ryan Massinople and Payten Brown with mentor Dr. Juan Bugueno.