University of Kansas Medical Center Uses TeamSTEPPS to Educate Future Clinicians

Patient Safety
December 2014

The University of Kansas Medical Center has incorporated TeamSTEPPS® into its required curricula for students in 13 health-related programs, including medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and a variety of other programs in health professions, adapting the AHRQ program into the university's interprofessional education program. As a result, more than 800 students in a range of health professional programs and 88 faculty members are trained annually in proven team-based care and communication practices.

Research shows that the quality of patient care improves when members of the health care team work in collaboration to share their unique patient care perspectives, given that physicians, nurses, and other health professionals enter into practice with different skill sets, knowledge, and professional identities. AHRQ and the Department of Defense developed TeamSTEPPS, an evidence-based system aimed at optimizing patient outcomes and promoting a culture of team-driven care. The program establishes interdisciplinary team training systems to serve as the foundation for a patient safety strategy.

"AHRQ has had a huge success rate with TeamSTEPPS, and it's been vetted," says Kristy Johnston, M.S.W., director of the Center for Interprofessional Education and Simulation at the University of Kansas Medical Center. "We hope to instill the TeamSTEPPS strategies into our program to drive our culture of safety. We want our students, residents, and clinicians to have a common language and tools to use to enhance patient care."

The medical center has gotten a good start toward that goal. In 2012, it received a U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration Interprofessional Care Grant and built in TeamSTEPPS as a foundational training component to use with its pediatric team to enhance teamwork and communication. The same program was launched in the family medicine unit in August 2014. "In both the pediatric unit and on the family medicine unit, we have a significant increase in teamwork skills and satisfaction," says Ms. Johnston.

After the success of TeamSTEPPS in the hospital with clinicians, the University's Center for Interprofessional Education and Simulation in October 2013 rolled out a TeamSTEPPS curriculum as a pilot to a subset of 100 students. A half-day interprofessional session introduced TeamSTEPPS to first-year health professions students so they could acquire basic TeamSTEPPS concepts and communication tools to effectively use with health care teams.

In early 2014, the same students had a second-level interprofessional day that helped students apply "SBAR" (Situation-Background-Assessment-Recommendation) and other program components. The day was designed for students to use the TeamSTEPPS tools with patient case studies and low-fidelity simulations, which included having students work in teams of three to simulate doing an SBAR using patient care scenarios. In the TeamSTEPPS curriculum for level three students, they must "demonstrate the knowledge" in high-fidelity simulations and clinical practice activities.

"Student satisfaction has been very high," says Sarah Shrader, Pharm D., clinical associate professor in the University of Kansas School of Pharmacy, about the surveys they used before and after the training to determine whether students comprehended and internalized the teachings and concepts. "There are positive and significant signs of change in attitudes toward teamwork, based on the TeamSTEPPS questionnaires."  

With the success of the pilot programs, the medical center rolled out its TeamSTEPPS curriculum in January 2015 to all 800-plus students in 13 programs: medicine; pharmacy; nursing; nurse anesthesia; speech and hearing; dietary; physical therapy; occupational therapy; respiratory therapy; health information management; health policy and administration; clinical laboratory sciences; and doctor of nursing practice and nurse practitioners.

At the same time, increasing numbers of faculty members are being trained as TeamSTEPPS master trainers or coaches.

"That's unique," says Ms. Johnston about the medical center's effort, as other teaching programs have focused largely on medicine and nursing students. She adds, "TeamSTEPPS plays an important part in our center's mission to promote collaboration between and with different health professions for purposes of creating high-functioning health care teams. Each TeamSTEPPS level will be designed to build on the previous level, and students in these professional schools—whether two-year or four-year programs—will be exposed to each of the three levels over the course of their schooling." 

Dr. Shrader notes, "It's really helpful to have a proven program with solid evidence behind you, not to mention all the helpful tools" that TeamSTEPPS provides.

"We know our students might not always work in an organization that practices these skills or has a culture that supports TeamSTEPPS," says Ms. Johnston. "However, we think it's important to point them to the North Star, embedding these skills in their education so they can model the tools and behaviors necessary to practice safe patient care in the future."

Impact Case Study Identifier: 
2014-23
AHRQ Product(s): TeamSTEPPS®
Topics(s): Patient Safety, Education: Curriculum, Quality
Geographic Location: Kansas
Implementer: University of Kansas Medical Center
Date: 12/31/2014
Page last reviewed January 2015
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