Toolkit Prepares Preceptors for Interprofessional Teams of Learners

Today, the University of Kansas Medical Center and the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education released a toolkit featuring a series of online educational modules and small-group activities focused on the professional development of clinical preceptors who lead interprofessional student teams. 

This toolkit, “Preceptors in the Nexus,” will help preceptors in any health care profession learn to effectively train interprofessional groups of students, offering guidance to individuals who wish to champion interprofessional practice and education (IPE) in their practices.

Preceptors – health care providers who serve as onsite instructors during experiential learning – play a crucial role in educating students on the real-world demands of patient care. An important part of learning is to see interprofessional collaborative care in action, and preceptors are at the frontline of showing students the unique and rewarding experiences of working with an interprofessional team. 

“Faculty preceptors stand in two worlds. They work in both the practice and education worlds, and they need to bridge that divide for students,” said Jana K. Zaudke, MD, assistant professor, Department of Family Medicine, KU Medical Center. “If we can help preceptors develop and support the behaviors and skills that enrich professional work, then students are able to apply that to patient care, which ultimately leads to a better experience for everyone.” 

Activities focused on the “Nexus”

Each component of the toolkit is centered on the “Nexus” – a way to connect health care practice and education by creating a true partnership and shared responsibility to seamlessly enhance patient care, improve population health and lower costs.

With support from the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, the team from KU Medical Center and the National Center worked with other interprofessional experts to develop, test, measure and refine each activity with the Nexus in mind.

The four online modules are focused on the preceptor as a learner and can be used individually or as a group. Each takes about 15 – 30 minutes to complete and is topic driven so preceptors can choose those most applicable.

  • An Introduction to Interprofessional Collaboration:  Offers tips for effective interprofessional collaboration in clinical settings.
  • Facilitating Interprofessional Discussions: Best Practices:  Outlines how to facilitate supportive and engaging discussions with interprofessional students.
  • Interprofessional Precepting: Best Practices:  Shares 13 best practices for interprofessional precepting and outlines how to implement them with groups of interprofessional students.
  • Enhancing Interprofessional Practice and Education at Your Site:  Gives strategies for improving interprofessional care and outlines how to build a richer, team-based practice environment.

In addition to the four online modules, group learning materials enhance and reinforce concepts. From student activities that foster discussion to practice transformation tools, these small-group resources allow the preceptor to further develop as an IPE leader – and helps students understand the value they bring to clinical sites.

“Developing a rich interprofessional site and creating a high-functioning team that includes interprofessional students is a win-win for everybody,” said Sarah Shrader, PharmD, clinical associate professor, Department of Pharmacy Practice, University of Kansas. “The toolkit will help everyone, including students and preceptors, bridge interprofessional education and practice and advance efforts to achieve the Triple Aim.”

Expanding IPE knowledge

The toolkit is one of the first resources added to the National Center’s recently launched Nexus Learning System. Through this portal, materials – including interactive activities, modules, courses and resources – will be added that focus on understanding the Nexus and the skills needed to engage in interprofessional practice and education.

With the Nexus Learning System, the National Center aims to establish standardized language, assessment tools, coursework and roadmaps to help individuals, groups and organizations effectively incorporate IPE into their work.

“The Nexus Learning System is one way we are challenging people to think differently about how health care is transforming,” said Barbara Brandt, PhD, director, National Center. “These educational resources allow us to take what we are learning through applied research and bring it to life in practical, accessible ways that move IPE forward.”