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Academic Medicine:
Special Theme: Complementary, Alternative, and Integrative Medicine: IN PROGRESS-SEPTEMBER 2002: SPECIAL FEATURE: GERIATRICS AND GERONTOLOGY IN MEDICAL EDUCATION

A Model of Community‐based Interdisciplinary Team Training in the Care of the Frail Elderly

KEOUGH, MARY ELLEN MPH; FIELD, TERRY S. DSC; GURWITZ, JERRY H. MD

Section Editor(s): ANDERSON, M. BROWNELL

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MEYERS PRIMARY CARE INSTITUTE, FALLON HEALTHCARE SYSTEM, AND UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS MEDICAL SCHOOL

Inquiries: Mary Ellen Keough, MPH, Instructor, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, Meyers Primary Care Institute, Fallon Healthcare System and University of Massachusetts Medical School, 630 Plantation Street, Worcester, MA 01605.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration's Geriatric Education Training Centers grant number 1 D31 HP 70114, and the University of Massachusetts Medical School Macy Initiative in Health Communication, funded by the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation.

Objective: It is widely recognized that interdisciplinary team care is essential for effective management of complex patients such as the frail elderly. Physicians need to understand the operational mechanisms that drive the team care model. While such concepts should be an integral part of medical education, teaching such a model of care that demonstrates effective provider communication, coordination of multiple services, and the provision of cost-effective health care can be difficult. The Program of All-inclusive Care of the Elderly (PACE) is a well-established, high-quality program that has been replicated nationally and can serve as an effective teaching model. Achieving the goals of the PACE program requires strong team leadership and communication, clear patient-oriented goal definition, an understanding and appreciation of roles among various disciplines, skillful negotiation, and shared responsibility for the patient. The PACE model offers medical and family practice residents a non-traditional clinical setting with educational opportunities not available in most hospital or ambulatory settings.

Description: For several years the Fallon Healthcare System Elder Service Plan (ESP), one of 25 national PACE programs, has provided an educational setting for medical and family practice residents as a component of their clinical rotations in geriatrics. This training experience has been expanded to include additional residents in on-site interactive seminars that focus on effective communication using an interdisciplinary team approach to care. The ESP program provides comprehensive medical and social services to a frail, non-institutionalized nursing-home—eligible population. The aim of the program is to preserve the health and independence of its participants for as long as possible. The ESP team consists of physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, nurse's aides, home health workers, social workers, therapists, nutritionists, and pharmacists. The seminar includes a slide and video presentation led by members of the ESP team using selected scenarios that portray both effective and poor team dynamics and communication. Definitions of a team, the process of establishing patient- and family-oriented goals, interdisciplinary role appreciation and responsibility, and the basics of financing a comprehensive health care delivery system for the frail elderly are discussed. Approximately half of each session is devoted to interactive discussion and critiquing of the scenarios by the residents and faculty, which is derived from the ESP team.

Discussion: For most of the medical and family practice residents, this experience represents their first exposures to this model of coordinated team care for the elderly. Preliminary evaluation results indicate that residents have generally been unaware of the services available to the elderly and of the opportunities for coordinated care using the expertise of multiple disciplines. There is a lack of knowledge of key non-physician professional roles. The expanded use of PACE models as training sites could be beneficial in preparing future health care professionals for interdisciplinary team care of the growing numbers of frail elderly.

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Peer-reviewed Collection of Reports on Innovative Approaches to Medical Education

© 2002 Association of American Medical Colleges

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