Making Safe Moves

The value of interprofessional research and education is at an all-time high in today’s academic climate, but logistical challenges, like meeting curricular and scheduling requirements, frequently create barriers and deterrents to interdisciplinary collaboration on college campuses.

Co-located on one campus in Gainesville, University of Florida Health and all six health science colleges have an advantage in research and health professions education collaboration. All six colleges, major research centers, institutes and most clinical enterprises are located within a half-mile radius of one another, and are adjacent to the main university’s campus.

The University of Florida College of Dentistry and the Department of Physical Therapy in the College of Public Health and Health Professions, or PHHP, jumped at the opportunity to team up for an interprofessional education course, “Making Safe Moves.”

Venita Sposetti, D.M.D., associate dean for education in dentistry, and Kim Dunleavy, P.T., Ph.D., O.C.S., director of professional education and community engagement in the department of physical therapy in PHHP, joined forces to make the interactive practical experience a reality and a win-win opportunity for dental and physical therapy students.

Dentistry and physical therapy embraced the obstacles, and the result is “Making Safe Moves,” an innovative peer-learning experience, where physical therapy students teach dental students how to safely transfer patients with assistive devices into and out of the dental chair.

“Making Safe Moves” has made big moves on the UF campus and is garnering attention across the country.

A peer-reviewed article in the Winter 2016 edition of Collaborative Healthcare, a publication of the Jefferson Center for Interprofessional Education, detailed the hour and a half  “Making Safe Moves” course.

“It was so great working with Dr. Dunleavy in PHHP on ‘Making Safe Moves,’ ” Sposetti said. “We’re so proud that others see the value in this particular interprofessional education collaboration. This is only the beginning; we know that our interdisciplinary efforts with other educational units will only continue to flourish.”

Thought to be the first of its kind in the country and the only one the UF campus, the one-on-one interactive experience meets curricular objectives for the dental and physical therapy groups and addresses some of the barriers to interprofessional education. On a scale of 0-10, all physical therapy and dental students who took the initial course believe that learning how to perform transfers, about appropriate body mechanics and how to address needs for those with mobility deficits were very important.

After the experience, 79 percent of D.M.D. students reported being confident or very confident assisting patients with mobility needs to the dental chair, while 100 percent of the Year 1 Doctor of Physical Therapy students reported being confident or very confident teaching other professionals in their environments.

“It was great being able to share our personal experiences that we recently learned over our four clinical rotations in order to simulate actual patient situations,” third year physical therapy student Lindsay Brinker said of the course. “It was also very fun working with the dental students to encourage interdisciplinary interactions and promote the importance of communication between different medical fields.”

Sposetti shared insights learned during the development and deployment of the program during the annual meeting of the American Dental Education Association in Long Beach, California, in March. The course is now a mainstay in the dental and physical therapy curriculum at UF.