Better teamwork is needed to fulfill health care needs
Teamwork in the health care sphere was spotlighted at an international conference jointly organized by Linköping University and Karolinska Institutet. The conference, which was held on June 2-5, attracted around 450 delegates from fifteen countries.
The “All together better health” conference is biennial and the two preceeding conferences were held in London and Vancouver. The theme this year was Development and progress in interprofessional education and practice.
Dr. Hugh Barr, Emeritus Professor of Interprofessional Education at the University of Westminster, London, put it thus: "Treatment of complex health problems often requires participation by several categories of health care professionals. It is important to introduce team thinking as part of the educational process, so that each team member learns to identify and understand the contributions by colleagues from other health care fields."
The Faculty of Health Sciences at Linköping University was a forerunner in this mode of thought. Two decades ago, the faculty introduced integrated classes that included students in medicine, nursing and other health care fields. Ten years later, the faculty established a student-operated health care clinic, an international first.
Dr. John Gilbert, Professor Emeritus at the College of Health Disciplines, University of British Columbia, Canada, expanded the teamwork issue.
"Health care and medical care personnel also need to interact with other professions that encounter individuals in distress: police officers, ambulance drivers and workers in the fire and rescue services. These workers, as well as representatives of various religious faiths, have a special and significant role in a care team."
The basic idea is that all activities are to be for the patient's best. Each member must understand how the team can best serve the needs of an individual patient.
"Unfortunately public resources for caring are often not in phase with the needs of the populations," Dr. Gilbert explained.
Dr. Jean Yan, Chief Scientist for Nursing and Midwifery at the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva, spoke on the acute and global need of medical and health care.
"A current report indicates that a crisis situation exists in 57 countries. 1.3 billion individuals are denied access to basic health and medical needs. Most severely affected is the African continent, where 36 countries have severe problems.
WHO recently launched an effort to reinvigorate basic health care resources around the world. There is much interest among educationalists about interprofessional teams in health and medical care.
Mats Hammar, Dean at LiUs Faculty of Health Sciences, gave an example of successful collaboration between LiU and an African counterpart.
"When Kenya—nearly twenty years ago—was setting up its second educational program in medicine, this time at the university in Eldoret, WHO suggested that university representatives get in touch with the LiU Faculty of Health Sciences. That contact led to a long-term and comprehensive collaboration with the Moi School of Medicine. Many of our educational ideas have become rooted in Moi's education of medical doctors, nurses and other health care workers. Today a substantial share of Kenya's health clinics are staffed by Moi graduates."
The conference delegates hailed from Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, New Zeeland, Japan, and the Scandinavian countries.
Last updated: 2009-06-03