Pandemic Flu: Interprofessional Education Goes Statewide in Arizona

By Jody Thompson on Nov 16, 2012

Interprofessional Education Pandemic Flu

For the first time ever, an Interprofessional Education & Practice (IPEP) mini-course—Pandemic Flu: An Exercise in Disaster Preparedness—will go statewide to include students and faculty from all three state institutions: The University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University.

On November 27, nearly 550 students and more than 40 faculty facilitators at eight different sites will be linked together through Telemedicine video conferencing technology for the simulated pandemic exercise in emergency preparedness.

IPEP Pandemic Flu

Since its debut in 2008, the pandemic flu exercise has engaged students through interprofessional teamwork, which helps future health professionals to address the threats and consequences of public health emergencies. In 2012, what used to be a single-day pandemic flu exercise was transformed into a four-week mini-course—Pandemic Flu: An Exercise in Disaster Preparedness. The mini-course includes online learning and interaction in addition to the live interprofessional teamwork experience. After completing introductory learning online, students work in interprofessional teams of six during a simulated pandemic emergency to explore medical, social, psychological, legal and public health issues they would face in real-life pandemic emergency.

Reaching Across Arizona to Include All Three State Universities

The effect of a pandemic emergency allows for student involvement across all health science disciplines. This year, the 548 students will come from UA Colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing and UA Zuckerman College of Public Health in Phoenix and Tucson, UA James E. Rogers College of Law in Tucson, ASU School of Social Work in Phoenix and Tucson, and NAU Department of Physician Assistant Studies in Phoenix.

Students will be spread out across eight different sites, each representing a different community in Arizona. Seven sites will be located in Tucson on the Arizona Health Sciences Center (AHSC) campus and one site on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus. Each year, increasingly sophisticated communication technology plays an integral part in the simulated pandemic, and with eight sites in two different cities, it will take a crew of nearly 10 people to manage the technology on November 27. 

Mock newscasts start off the simulated pandemic and are streamed to the eight sites where students will be working in interprofessional teams. Each site is connected to a central Emergency Operations Center (EOC) through Telemedicine video conferencing technology. The Telemedicine video conferencing allows for real-time audio and video communications between all sites and the EOC.

The Emergency Operations Center (EOC)

Each year a central EOC is staffed by a panel of experts who make mock announcements, answer questions that come in from various sites, and do a “hot wash” at the end of simulation which involves the opportunity to talk about what happened during the simulation and how it relates to real-world pandemics. This year’s panel of experts will include, Dr. Richard Carmona, Dr. Andreas Theodorou, Charles A. Schable, Dr. Ted Tong, Dr. Nafees Ahmad, Dr. Christopher Robertson and Dr. Amy Waer.

The Interprofessional Learning

The Pandemic Flu mini-course is designed to reinforce the core values of the interprofessional collaboration including teamwork, quality, safety and patient centered care. In the online learning, students read about disaster and emergency preparedness specific to their own health profession and complete an online ice-breaker to meet their interprofessional team prior to the live simulation. During the simulated pandemic, students learn about the latest administrative, legal and ethical challenges that would arise in such an emergency, as well as the perspectives of other health professionals. They are also challenged to explain how cooperation among federal, state and local jurisdictions, and public and private organizations, can improve effective disease control and preventative measures.

Students will encounter scenarios that include prioritizing patients given limited resources in a pandemic emergency and an exploration of their duty as health care professionals to provide care while their own health and safety are at risk. 

Hal Strich, a member of the Pandemic Flu planning committee and Associate Director of the MD-MPH Dual Degree Program  explains one of the goals for the interprofessional student interaction during the live teamwork experience:

"There’s no right answer to some of these questions; we want students to see the complexity of these issues and the role and perspective of other professionals, and to understand that they need one another."

More News and Photos

To read about how the 2012 Pandemic Flu exercise went and see some photos, check out the follow-up blog article. To see more photos of the Pandemic Flu exercise in action, visit the Facebook photo album.

About the Author

Jody Thompson

Jody Thompson is the Communications Assistant for IPEP and a Senior at the University of Arizona Honors College where she is completing her degree in Creative Writing with a minor in English. Ms. Thompson was awarded the 2011 Martindale Literary Award and has had prose and poetry appear in multiple publications.

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