Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine collaborates with University of Detroit Mercy on interprofessional curriculum
three women in professional attire posting in a room with a window
From left to right, Melanie Mayberry, D.D.S., Arati Kelekar, M.D. and Nelia Afonso, M.D., work together at the Clinical Skills Center on the interprofessional curriculum for OUWB and Detroit Mercy.

Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine (OUWB) and University of Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry (Detroit Mercy) will launch a new interprofessional course to educate medical and dental students on how health care professionals collaborate for the benefit of their patients.

Beginning in March 2019, second-year Detroit Mercy dental students will learn communication skills and patient encounters side-by-side with second-year medical students at OUWB’s Clinical Skills Center at Beaumont Hospital, Troy. At the Center, they will interact with trained standardized patients.

“This academic initiative provides us the opportunity to engage OUWB’s values of partnership, collaboration and teamwork across organizational boundaries. It takes all of us working in teams to obtain excellent outcomes for patients,” said Robert Folberg, M.D., Stephan Sharf founding dean, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, and chief academic officer, William Beaumont Hospital.

Develops interprofessional communication skills

The design of the new joint program allows students to demonstrate and apply the knowledge of their own profession and communicate with each other more effectively.

“The collaboration is educationally beneficial since it creates opportunities for the students to learn together and understand how collaborative management of the patient can improve health outcomes,” said Mert Aksu, D.D.S., J.D., MHSA, dean of the Detroit Mercy School of Dentistry. “Teaching students collaborative management skills will reduce the impact of the inter-relationship between oral and systemic diseases and will also reduce costs in the long run and improve patient satisfaction.”

The session topics will vary and include difficult communication issues such as delivering bad news, pain management communication and intimate partner violence. For example, one of the scenarios involves delivering news of oral cancer to a standardized patient by a medical and dental student team. Faculty from both schools will facilitate these interactions.

At the end of each session, the students will have learned how to deliver difficult news in an effective manner to the patient; describe the types of responses patients and families may have to difficult medical news; and apply knowledge of their own professional role and those of other team members to appropriately assess and address the needs of the patient. Additionally, students should be able to communicate effectively with the patient and other members of the health care team and work collaboratively with students from other health professions to maintain a climate of mutual respect and shared values.

“An awareness will occur where medical students will begin to understand how oral health can impact the overall health of a patient. Likewise, dental students will look at gum disease and know that a patient may have diabetes,” said Melanie Mayberry, D.D.S., M.S.-HCM, fellow, Academy of General Dentistry. “This awareness will lead them to ask a physician colleague about diabetes treatment.”

Both OUWB and Detroit Mercy agree that this interprofessional course is important and recognize the potential to build on it for students who are in their third and fourth years of medical and dental school.