Hands-on training

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October 8, 2010

At Bradley, you don’t have to be an education major to get your chance at being a teacher.

For three days this week, nursing and physical therapy faculty took a back seat while students became the instructors.

Twenty-four physical therapy graduate students joined 76 sophomore nursing students in the Markin Center nursing lab to teach the future nurses about body mechanics, patient transfers, bed positioning, and ambulation — curriculum the physical therapy students developed themselves.

The lab was divided into four stations, each under the direction of one or two physical therapy graduate students. Groups of six or seven nursing students rotated from station to station, playing different roles and practicing their newly learned skills on one other.

Next month, senior nursing students will teach physical therapy students how to work with patients who have chest tubes, feeding tubes, and IVs.

“There is usually a lot of interaction during and after these sessions,” said Dr. Cindy Brubaker, assistant professor of nursing. “I think the students seeing the interdisciplinary collaboration early on in their careers is very valuable, and it makes them less timid to approach each other in the hospital when they get into their careers.”

In response to a University-wide call for more interdisciplinary collaboration, Brubaker teamed up with Dr. Steve Tippett, chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, three years ago to develop the unique teaching and learning opportunity for students. Brubaker said the goal is not only to learn important skills, but also to promote collaboration early on, because it is so vital in the health care field.

“It’s a natural fit, a no-brainer,” Tippett said of the partnership. “It’s important to introduce them to peer-to-peer interaction now because they will be working with each other in the hospital, not us.”

Nursing student Lauren Sladek ’13 said the four-hour lesson on Friday with physical therapy students resonated with her better than it might have coming from a professor.

“They let us ask questions, and we got to discuss it as we did it,” she said. “We are getting hands-on experience rather than sitting in a classroom and taking notes.”

Physical therapy graduate student Michelle Kosner ’09 said it’s exciting to put the curriculum her group developed into action.

“It’s exciting to teach it to other students,” she said. “We have recently learned this material, so we are able to explain it and teach it in a different way than professors might.”