More Than Just Classes: Interprofessional Geriatric Curriculum Program
October 16, 2017
As part of our course curriculum in the second year, all three cohorts take OT 538: Current Issues in Practice: Adulthood & Aging. This course addresses the shifting demographics of society with the worldwide phenomenon of aging and occupational therapy’s role in caring for the aging population. One option for this course is to engage in an interdisciplinary experience with USC students in other fields of study, which include: pharmacy, dental hygiene, social work, medical, physician assistant, physical therapy, and occupational therapy students! One aspect that drew me into occupational therapy was the potential for interdisciplinary collaboration and community outreach, which this program blends together seamlessly, so I was eager to sign up.
We had our first site visit this week where we prepared for an hour before meeting with our older adult living in the residential community building. The focus of the week was on pharmacy and social work as well as to generally get to know our older adult. My interprofessional team does not include a social work student or a pharmacy student, so the other healthcare professional students and I stepped up to coordinate our session in a collaborative way. We ensured we remained within our respective scopes of practice while also obtaining all the information we needed. The older adult that we get to work with is so welcoming and open about her life.
The different professional students on my team and I took turns asking various questions, about everything from her family, where she is from, what she did for a living, and what she currently does with her time. She was open about her medical history, concerns about age related illness due to family history of diabetes and Alzheimer’s. She showed us photos of her grandchildren and years of travel. She opened up about her peers and how she views aging as something she is in control of by maintaining a social life, physical activity, and engaging in activities that give her life meaning (occupations!).
After the session we debriefed as a team and it was amazing to hear all of the different things that each professional student found significant and would affect their treatment or intervention, if we were to treat our older adult. The physician assistant and the medical student found the vitamins that our older adult is taking to be a great fit for her and her needs. The dental hygienist student noticed a tooth that she was in between appointments on getting it fixed. The physical therapy student noticed bruises on her knees and handles on the walls, which lead her to want to know more about her balance. I wanted to know more about her roles, routines, and habits in order to get a better idea of how she occupies her times.
I love the chance to get to ask each of these different students questions to learn more about their professional lenses as well as the chance to connect with an older adult. Being a student at USC opens the door for opportunities such as this with so many other professional programs and connection to the community. The Trojan family spreads into all of the schools within the university and community members. I look forward to my next site visit to continue my interprofessional growth and building a relationship with our older adult.