As he trains for a career in health care, nothing will prepare Saumik Biswas like applied experience. The third-year Medical Sciences student at Brock University is getting that chance thanks to the Interprofessional Education for Quality Improvement Program (I-EQUIP).
“I think it’s an awesome experience, simply because at the University there’s a lot of bookwork, theory work,” he said before making a presentation at the Health Quality Symposium at White Oaks Conference Resort and Spa in Niagara-on-the-Lake. “When you’re doing a program like this, you get to apply those theories in real-life scenarios.”
In its second year, I-Equip is an innovative and collaborative quality improvement program for medical students, undergraduate health science students and health professionals. It’s grown to 14 projects from six, with room for more.
“We’re still growing, and there have been some growing pains… but there’s a lot of inspirational students and innovative students who see the potential and want to be involved,” said Madelyn Law, assistant professor of Brock’s Department of Health Sciences and the co-director of I-Equip with Dr. Matthew Greenway of McMaster University. “Having applied experience and being able to actually affect some level of change is much more impactful for education and learning.”
Students from Brock’s Health Sciences program and McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine (Niagara campus) work with the Niagara Health System, Hotel Dieu Shaver and Tabor Manor on these quality improvement projects.
“I think the health system has been able to see the benefit to which the students would be able to bring to these projects,” Law said. ” but there’s also an external push for health care organizations to improve from Health Quality Ontario and the community in general. They have to create quality improvement plans and they have to operationalize these, so this has kind of been that way in Niagara that we’re trying to help.”
Biswas and Kimberly Fernandez are part of a group working with Tabor Manor, a long-term care facility, to create an annual assessment form that is short, simple and relevant to multidisciplinary care (doctors, nurses, chaplains, dieticians).
“We hope the creation of this form will allow for better communication between the disciplines and, at the end of the day, result in better care for a given individual at Tabor Manor,” said Fernandez, a second-year DeGroote student studying at Niagara.
There are 55 people in the program. With the right resources, Law said, I-Equip could handle 20 projects a year spread across multiple health organization partners in Niagara.
“This whole I-Equip program is geared towards tackling those gaps in the system, which are so important, and I’m sure every medical student and patient in the health-care system sees,” Fernandez said. “Sometimes these changes are very difficult to tackle without a program like this, and it’s a great way to make a difference for a profession I’m invested in.”