University of Southern Maine Grad Students Train for Public Health Careers Using AHRQ Resources
About 200 graduate students at the University of Southern Maine have used AHRQ resources as part of their training for careers in public health. AHRQ's Morbidity & Mortality (WebM&M) cases, Partnering to Heal online video training, and Patient Safety Network (PSNet), among others, are featured in classes at the university's Muskie School of Public Service.
Judy Tupper, D.H.Ed., C.P.P.S., director of population health and health policy in the school’s graduate program in public health, included AHRQ tools in class curricula in 2011. She found that students particularly enjoyed the AHRQ PSNet "treasure hunt" she created, a technique in which students must explore the PSNet Web site to find answers to questions.
Student teams review AHRQ's WebM&M cases and commentaries, often leading to animated group discussions. WebM&M, a peer-reviewed online journal and forum on patient safety and health care quality, features expert analysis of medical errors that have been reported anonymously. It includes interactive learning modules on patient safety, called "Spotlight Cases."
After reviewing errors described in WebM&M cases, teams report back to classmates on contributing factors for the errors, areas of quality compromised, possible remediation strategies, quality tools that could be used for improvement, and potential measures of improvement.
"The students are eager to apply topics covered in our quality improvement curriculum to 'real-world' cases, and the WebM&M cases are constructed to be readily understood by both clinically trained and non-clinical grad students," Dr. Tupper said.
Another class featured the Partnering to Heal online training tool, a video simulation that allows users to assume the identity of five characters and make decisions about preventing healthcare-associated infections. "Usually,” Dr. Tupper noted, "the group chooses the advisable path, but occasionally the 'right' answer is not clear, and a healthy debate ensues."
Dr. Tupper found the Partnering to Heal tool "presents realistic and compelling scenarios from the viewpoints of a medical student, nurse, infection prevention staff member, physician, and family member. The program reveals the complex layers of individual action (or inaction), communication, motivation, training, and safety culture that contribute to adverse events."
In one online course that reviews 15 years of patient safety research and quality improvement activities, Dr. Tupper requires students to use her "treasure hunt" tool to explore AHRQ’s PSNet website for answers to questions.
"The purpose of this exercise is to increase familiarity with one of the top online resources for patient safety research and general patient safety information," explained Dr. Tupper.