Students in red scrubs and white lab coats gather around numbered tables in the Todd Wehr Auditorium. Eyes affixed to their cell phones and tablets, their fingers flutter across the device display screens as they participate in a live digital poll. At the front of the room, their responses scroll across a projection screen in real-time. “Nurturing but not scientific” and “arrogant and cold” were some of the words and phrases MSOE School of Nursing and Medical College of Wisconsin students used to describe the misconceptions about their respective roles in health care.

The polling activity was just an ice-breaker for a larger interprofessional education (IPE) event in which students from both institutions work together as teams in standardized patient simulations. The standardized patients are real people hired by the Medical College of Wisconsin. Two interprofessional events took place this year, one at MCW the other at MSOE, with a total of 33 second-year medical students and 44 nursing students participating.

“Bringing students from other disciplines together early in their educational programs is a way to off-set misassumptions about other disciplines and develop effective teams that are essential for positive patient care outcomes,” said Dr. Jane Paige, a professor in the School of Nursing and certified health care simulation educator.

Each simulation starts with a pre-briefing, when students review charts and documents of the patient and discuss the medical and nursing priorities and how to manage them. Nursing students then meet with the patient first, gather preliminary assessment information, and call the medical students utilizing the SBAR (situation-background-assessment-recommendation) communication format. After the simulation, students de-brief with the standardized patient and faculty to discuss what went well and identify areas for improvement.

MCW and MSOE have been partnering on IPE’s for five years. The events require three medical faculty and four staff, and six nursing faculty and three staff. MSOE nursing students experience between four to six standardized patients-based simulations and about 15 manikin-based simulations as part of their curriculum.