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ASU Social Work Student Wins IPE Team Competition

Forming a team of health care professionals to create a patient care plan can be challenging.  Imagine joining a group of strangers to make a plan of care for an elderly patient.  This is exactly what Ecila Barnett, a social work graduate student in the ASU College of Public Service & Community Solutions, did when she won the A.T. Still University Interprofessional Education Collaborative Case Competition in November.

Barnett discovered the competition through one of her graduate classes and decided to register.  She was placed on a team with three other students from different schools and health fields.  From September 26 to November 8 the team came up with a health care plan for Mr. Sherman Yoder, a fictional patient who had been admitted to the hospital five days before and diagnosed with sepsis.  The team had to create a plan to care for Yoder after he left the hospital. 

Barnett said working in a group was hard at first, but they quickly came together as a team.

“It was very different at first because we were all taught to think differently in our specific school training,” she said. “Once we got an idea started we were able to collectively collaborate and work as a great team.”

Her idea was to develop a company in order to best utilize the unlimited resources they were given.  Her team came up with the idea to have a home health care company that could incorporate all of their respective fields, meet patient needs and apply the latest technology.  As a social worker, Barnett took the role of case manager.

“The social worker was the glue that held things together,” she said. “We would be a huge source of communication in the company.”

The plan that they developed for Yoder was fairly extensive.  They found that he had diabetes so they placed him in diabetes education and nutrition classes.  The team took Yoder’s farm and made it into a community market in order to lessen the family burden of managing the farm.  The market would also help with Yoder’s socialization. They offered counseling to Yoder and brought in a lawyer to help the family with power of attorney and property issues.

“A nurse would come out to the Yoder house for treatment and care for his diabetes,” said Barnett. “We were able to address all his issues as a whole.  We also created a Web based plan so he could book appointments and access his medical information from home.”

On November 8, all of the teams met at A.T. Still’s Arizona campus and presented to a panel of judges. The teams were judged on criteria such teamwork, communication, presentation skills, and how they placed the interests of the patient and his family at the center of interprofessional health care delivery.  Though Barnett found the presenting process nerve-wracking, her team came out on top.

“I was nervous because I’m not a great public speaker,” she said. “Our group practiced our presentation over and over again to make sure everyone knew their part.  In the end, we won the competition.”

Barnett found her experience to be a great one and she truly believes in interprofessionalism.

“Interprofessional collaboration is important so that we can have practice working with other people from different disciplines,” she said. “In a perfect world that’s how treatment teams should work.”


Ecila Barnett, second from left in above photo.  Story written by Kaly Nasliff.

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