Concordia University in Wisconsin Relies on TeamSTEPPS to Prepare Students for Health Careers
Each year since 2016, Concordia University in Wisconsin trains approximately 130 new students in its School of Health Professions (SHP) on AHRQ's TeamSTEPPS®. As of early 2021, more than 500 Concordia students have entered the local workforce and are using TeamSTEPPS principles to keep patients safer.
Linda Samuel, Ph.D., M.S., SHP dean, reports that Concordia graduates are better prepared to hit the ground running when they go to work, as several healthcare facilities in the area routinely use TeamSTEPPS.
Developed jointly by AHRQ and the Department of Defense, TeamSTEPPS is an evidence-based system that helps improve communication and teamwork skills among healthcare professionals, boosting patient safety and quality of care. TeamSTEPPS is frequently used in a variety of healthcare settings where Concordia's SHP students eventually practice, including long-term care, medical offices, and acute care hospitals.
TeamSTEPPS training is offered in all SHP students' degree programs at Concordia, including occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, physician assistant, social work, and diagnostic medical sonography. TeamSTEPPS is also introduced and reinforced to pharmacy students during first- and third-year coursework. All students use TeamSTEPPS training as part of their Interprofessional Practice and Education (IPE) certificate. The IPE graduate certificate can be completed through all health and social care programs.
Key TeamSTEPPS concepts taught at Concordia include team structure, tools and strategies, communication, leading teams, situation monitoring, and mutual support.
"During the first year, almost all students have been already exposed to concepts such as Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation (SBAR)," explained Michael Oldani, Ph.D., M.S., IPE director. "Our training helps students learn this common language and these strategies to be patient-safety vigilant and to reduce errors."
"Knowing the TeamSTEPPS concepts can help students be more employable in facilities that use TeamSTEPPS, such as the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, the VA Medical Center, and Aurora Healthcare," Dr. Samuel said. Since TeamSTEPPS was first incorporated into the curriculum, the university has awarded approximately 90 IPE certificates each year.
Concordia leaders believe TeamSTEPPS brings substantial value to the IPE certification. "We believe students need to learn how to communicate with each other effectively. They need to understand their profession, their role, and the role of others—both to be an integral member of the healthcare team and to provide the best possible care to their patients," Dr. Samuel noted.