Drawing Inspiration from the Next Generation of Health Care Practitioners
Contributed By: Dr. Kathleen Norman
One of the most inspiring things an educator can experience is to glimpse how capable and committed the next generation is for tackling the challenges that lie ahead. On the evening of Friday, March 6, five teams of students provided awesome demonstrations of this capacity and commitment, as they competed in the National Health Care Team Challenge™. Not only had the students evidently put a huge amount of time into preparation, many had also travelled a great distance to compete against the Queen’s home team: from University of Alberta, University of Toronto, University of Ottawa, and Dalhousie University.
The Health Care Team Challenge™ was created as a friendly competitive way for students to learn about delivery of care in interprofessional teams. All student teams are given the same fictional case and are evaluated on their presentation of an appropriate care plan and its hypothetical implementation. Judges also ask students what they learned in the process of developing their case presentation. A resonant theme in the students’ responses was their growing understanding that “we’re better together.” The Royal Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada recommended that education programs for health care providers should, “focus more on integrated approaches for preparing health care teams.” A dozen years later, these teams are the embodiment of the next generation’s enthusiastic endorsement of that idea.
Just as inspiring as the competitors, the audience of over 100 included students who came together to learn around the theme of Putting the Care Back Into Healthcare. The impressive conference, organized by students in Queen’s Health Interprofessional Society (QHIP), included an address by keynote speaker, Dr. Lesley Bainbridge of University of British Columbia, who touched on the evolution of competencies considered within the Canadian Interprofessional Health Collaborative (CIHC) framework. One of the ideas Dr. Bainbridge discussed was that of social capital – i.e., the resources that are linked to your networks and relationships – and reflected that we’re constantly building or burning social capital. When you help a patient or co-worker, you build social capital; when you need and receive help from them, you burn it. However, you also burn social capital when you are asked for help and, instead of showing empathy, you respond dismissively. A study of social capital in the context of interprofessional teams concluded, “When interprofessional team members have open communication, trust and shared cognition, they are more likely to coordinate spontaneously.”
As I watched the students engage with speakers and with each other throughout the conference, I reflected that these individuals have already learned the value of building networks and relationships, and had likely fostered a healthy amount of social capital in the course of their participation!
 Romanow R. (2002) Commission on the Future of Health Care in Canada: Building on Values – The Future of Health Care in Canada – Final Report. Chapter 4: Investing in Health Care Providers. This is one of five key recommendations in this chapter.
 Lee CT. Social capital and relational coordination in outpatient clinics: An interprofessional analysis. Journal of Interprofessional Care 2013; 27(1): 81-87. doi: 10.3109/13561820.2012.736094. quote from page 85.
Dr. Kathleen Norman is a faculty member in the Physical Therapy Program at
Queen’s School of Rehabilitation Therapy. Dr. Norman’s research interests
include a focus on enhancing student learning and evaluation.