Chancellor’s Chair – Jenn Salfi

Dr. Jenn Salfi head shotThe “I” in Teams: The Development & Evaluation of an Interprofessional Course on Collaboration and Teamwork

Associate Professor Jenn Salfi looks at her students and sees her role as preparing them for a collaborative practice-ready workforce that is equipped to respond to and meet the current needs of the population.

Since joining the Department of Nursing in 2013, Salfi has looked to interprofessional education (IPE) as a means of providing students with experiences to gain much needed “soft skills,” such as communication and problem solving, teamwork, and collaborative leadership.

Salfi is thrilled to have support from a 2018 Chancellor’s Chair for Teaching Excellence award to assist her efforts in creating an innovative foundational course that will help prepare students to work collaboratively within teams, as well as lead effective teams.

Jenn and a team of colleagues from across the Faculty of Applied Heath Sciences (AHS) will begin planning and developing the course for its debut in Spring 2019. It will be the first course in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences that will be open to students from all five departments.

“The idea for the course was sparked in part by a large survey conducted in 2016 to get a better grasp on what skills new entrants to the workforce tend to be missing,” Salfi says. “Soft skills” – referred to as skills such as problem solving, communication, and ownership/leadership in a teamwork setting – appeared to account for the largest gap in skills of new graduates, as much as 40 to 60 per cent. It was this survey that prompted the idea for the development of an interprofessional, foundational course on collaboration and teamwork – highlighting the important role of each individual’s knowledge and skillset (AKA the “I” in teams), in effective collaboration and team performance.

“The purpose of this course is to bridge this skills gap of our soon-to-be-graduates through some in-class instruction and a variety of meaningful interprofessional experiential opportunities.”

Salfi plans to evaluate the impact of the course over a two-year span and share the analysis in the spring/winter of 2021.
“If the impact on students is found to be positive, the course will provide one example of a unique and highly relevant opportunity for students to acquire and begin to refine the invaluable soft skills that are highly sought-after by today’s employers.”

She hopes this course and consequential study has the potential to inform educators both within the AHS Faculty and university-wide, as well as educators from other post-secondary institutions across North America.

Peter Tiidus, Dean, Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, says there are multiple benefits to pursuing this kind of programming.

“The development of a course in interprofessional education is an important addition to several undergraduate programs in the Faculty as well as being an important addition to the development of our new graduate programs in Gerontology,” Tiidus says. “This course fits well into the current movement among health professionals and health systems to improve inter-professional interactions to the benefit of patients and health care delivery.”