When you think about it, you’ll assume that we’ve already achieved the level of interdisciplinary in healthcare. To solve a particular issue, you have to see your GP and a few specialists. That’s a multidisciplinary instead of an interdisciplinary approach.
For example, women are referred to as gynecologists, transfusiologists, immunologists, and endocrinologists when they have trouble conceiving. They have to visit multiple clinics and explain the same issue to several doctors, over and over again. In the ideal scenario, these professionals would collaborate with each other and would provide the best treatment for the patient without burdening her with multiple hospital visits. It would be even better if the gynecologist had general knowledge in these other medical fields, so they would establish a proper treatment for cases that are not too complex.
To do that, these doctors would have to broaden their knowledge beyond their main field of interest.
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What Does Interdisciplinary Education Mean for Healthcare Students?
The idea of interdisciplinary education for medical students is not new. In 1977, Simmons and Given published a popular article: The Interdisciplinary Health-Care Team: Fact or Fiction? This article recognizes the need for an interdisciplinary approach in healthcare and healthcare education, which would result in a more effective treatment for patients.
In essence, the interdisciplinary approach is defined as close teamwork of several professionals, who have one main interest: the patient’s wellbeing.
At the moment, many doctors approach their jobs as individuals. The doctor’s ego is not a myth. Maybe we shouldn’t generalize, but it’s common knowledge that every healthcare professional thinks they know best. That’s the attitude that we need to change, and everything starts with proper education.
Reasons for Healthcare Students to Getting Interdisciplinary Education
Students Learn to Collaborate
When medical students from various disciplines are in a single class, they learn together. They use each other’s knowledge and collaborate to find the best solutions.
As a general medical student, you get multiple research papers and case studies to complete. You do the research, write the content, and use a tool that checks your essay for plagiarism. In most cases, students complete these projects not because they enjoy them, but because they are forced to write them.
An interdisciplinary approach to education would be based on team projects that would bring students from different disciplines together. They wouldn’t need to hire online writers for the things they don’t know; they would learn from one another.
Students Understand that All Healthcare Disciplines Matter
As individuals, doctors cannot solve complex medical issues. They need the knowledge and experience of their colleagues, and the educational system should prepare them for such collaboration.
With the interdisciplinary approach, future doctors will make fewer errors, since they will look at the problem from different aspects and work with other professionals to solve it. In those situations, healthcare professionals would learn to appreciate everyone’s contributions.
There is no room for ego in medical care.
Interdisciplinary Training Fills the Gap in Medical Knowledge
When the students get more information throughout their studies, they understand how complex each medical field is. The cardiologist will understand how complex the nephrologist’s cases are. They will gain basic understanding throughout their education, but they will also understand that real-life cases can only be solved through collaboration.
The main idea behind interdisciplinary education is to point out the gaps in knowledge that students have. It shows them that they don’t know everything, and they can fill these gaps only when they rely on other healthcare professionals.
Interdisciplinary Education Is Already a Reality
Many leading universities have already changed their programs towards this concept. As an example, the University of Kansas enables its students to participate in pediatric clinical rotations with interdisciplinary simulations. In that program, medical students collaborate with nursing and pharmacy students to find the best solutions in different cases.
When the expertise and experience from a variety of disciplines is brought together, the team gains a different perspective over a particular problem. They can custom-tailor an individual approach that will work for this patient instead of trying various generic treatments without the same effectiveness in results.
Learning in a silo doesn’t work. Each practitioner must understand the roles of experts from other fields, and solve patient issues through collaboration.