On April 9, 2021 an interprofessional team from The University of Texas at Austin competed in the CLARION Case Competition hosted by the University of Minnesota. This is the first time in the national competition's 16-year history that a team from UT Austin competed. The CLARION (Clinician Administrator Relationship Improvement OrganizatioN) Case Competition is the longest-running, most prestigious case competition for health professions students that focuses on patient safety and quality improvement, using a complex case. The UT Austin team consisted of Dayal Rajagopalan (medicine; team leader and president of the Student Health IPE Committee); Katie Foshee (social work and president-elect of the Student Health IPE Committee); Eun Joon Park (pharmacy); and Ife Shoyombo (medicine). They collaborated to present a root cause analysis for a case involving a family displaced by a natural disaster. These students were advised by faculty across programs who provided them with mentorship and support to enrich their learning experience. In this piece, members from the student team describe their experiences on how working on an interprofessional team impacted their process and deliverable.
Q: How did working with an interprofessional team help with developing a solution to the case?
Eun Joon: The case had multiple layers involved and it was initially challenging to pinpoint problems and identify solutions. It helped immensely to have multiple perspectives come together to discuss the case, as each member had unique strengths and skills to contribute.
Dayal: The case that we were presented with was so complex and nuanced. It was great to have multiple perspectives available to break it down. I appreciated having team members not only with different knowledge bases, but also with different personalities and ways of working.
Katie: With a team of individuals from a variety of backgrounds, unique access to resources, and diverse skills, we were able to address the problem holistically. Each team member voiced a perspective that was new to the rest of the team. Our solution took into account the whole person, addressing a broader definition of health and wellness. I was thankful to have teammates who were willing to listen, learn, and lead.
Q: What did you learn about other professions’ roles and responsibilities through this competition?
Eun Joon: I learned that medical students receive education and training in diverse areas of their interest, e.g., finance, in addition to healthcare-related topics. I also learned how social workers have a fundamental role in promoting the mental health of clients. As a pharmacy student, I felt most comfortable thinking in terms of providing holistic care for patients and identifying barriers to optimal healthcare due to systematic issues.
Dayal: I discovered that many health professions have overlapping training in terms of dealing with systems-based problems in healthcare. For most people looking into advanced degrees for the health professions, it is not obvious that there exists training in these realms. However, it is an essential component of our overall education.
Katie: I learned the purview of my own profession and the areas in which I will need the expertise of other professionals. I learned about specific medical terminology and became familiar with healthcare and medical systems. Though each of us were trained in specific ways, we had the ability to ask the right questions to fill in our respective gaps in knowledge.
Q: What helped you work so well as a team?
Eun Joon: I think what made it so easy and enjoyable to work with the team is that everyone was very respectful of each other’s opinions, while at the same time giving each other honest feedback. I think the many scheduled meetings that Dayal coordinated for us also helped tremendously in all steps, e.g., brainstorming, planning, setting deadlines, dividing up roles, etc. Everybody was also on top of things despite how busy the semester was.
Dayal: Every member of the team was incredibly respectful, cordial, and easy to get along with. I think that we had a collection of individuals who are all naturally team players.
Katie: I appreciated the mutual respect and humility each of us carried with us throughout the project. We identified natural skills and distributed tasks accordingly. We also got along on a personal level--we made sure to check in with each other and spend time getting to know one another. Having a schedule, an open line of communication, and familiarity with virtual platforms helped us reach our goals. Everyone wanted to be there; we were all passionate about the competition, project, and solution.
Q: Anything else to share?
Eun Joon: Our faculty mentors provided amazing support for us throughout the whole process. They helped us think more critically of our solutions and redirect our work whenever it was necessary. We are very thankful for all they did for us.
Dayal: The entire process was an incredible learning process and none of it would have been possible without our incredible faculty sponsors and mentors. They spent many hours with us and gave us invaluable feedback.
*Ife Shoyombo was not able to contribute to this piece.