Reflections by Shihaam Barnes

The aim of the IPSIG/IPCIHC (Inter-professional Collaboration in Health Care) module is to allow pre-licence students from different healthcare professions to learn from, about and with each other’s professions and simultaneously improve communication among the different professions. This module took place at the University of Antwerp from 06-10/03/2017, where we were combined with the Belgium students. My colleagues and I, were part of the international group which consisted of the Belgium, South African, Italian, Netherlands and Finnish students. This international group were part of the Erasmus students.

It was quite an intense and extermely busy week to begin with, a lot was done and a lot had to be absorbed and learnt. The week started with a plenary session in the auditorium at Antwerp University. Everything was explained: our expected outcomes for the week and what the module entails. Unfortunately the plenary was done in Dutch and we had no translator. It was difficult to follow what was said but we had a slight idea what was going on, since Dutch was a little similar to Afrikaans. It was easier to understand when we read rather than heard the individual speaking in Dutch. It was just as hard for the Finnish and Italian students to understand the language as well. We were expected to then watched videos (in Dutch) and answer the questions in the workbook. At first I felt so confused, but then made an effort to approach one of the lectures presenting the module. Thereafter, they assisted us by translating that tasks and the video. At this moment I felt more at ease, as I was not the only one who felt confused and that we were now better informed to complete the tasks. During the lunch break we built a good relationship with the Italian students, as we were all working together to answer the questions in the handbook.

After the plenary session we met up with the group we were originally placed in. We then had an ice-breaker activity, where we conversed with the team member next to us and then present about that person to the lecturers. Surprisingly it was quite easy to speak to my neighbour as she was one of the Italian students. I felt once again welcomed and not out of place.

We then had the task to write down what we knew about another health care profession other than our own profession. It was somewhat different as many students did not know what the duties of an occupational therapist and physiotherapist are. We learnt a lot from the each other and it was also more relaxed. We were then divided into 2 groups, in my group we were 8 students (nurses, doctors, physiotherapist and occupational therapist).

It was a rough start, but as the days went on, it became more easy to follow what was going on and our group members were translating for us when necessary, which helped a lot.

The rest of the week we had to present our own case studies, discuss a selected case study and then devise a care plan using an inter-professional collaboration approach. It was interesting to hear the various types of case studies. What was also noted was that many other professions didn’t understand many medical terms used by nurses or doctors, and it was very considerate of the group to stop for a moment to explain the medical terms used in the case study. I found each and every member case study captivating as it was presented in the format of their profession. During this task we faced challenges as we were a bit confused with what was expected of us, but eventually we managed to complete the task. It was an amazing feeling to be part/involved in an international group, contributing to the group and helping one another.

  • Tasks that we did as group included:
    • Mono- disciplinary group sessions- for these sessions I was in a group of nurses over with the other international students including the Belgium students. Our discussion was based on patient centeredness, team orientation and professional action. We as nurses had many similarities in the care for the patient; our main focus was the patient. There was some language barriers, but that did not stop us from completing our tasks as we helped each member by maybe using hand gestures, body language, facial expressions or another language for the member to understand what is being told. I learnt that we should always work as a team and to accept one another’s opinions. During the discussion I found it interesting that in Italy 95% of care is based in hospitals where as in South Africa we have all levels of care with our focus on primary health care. In Italy there is home based care but it is rarely found. Italy and South Africa is similar concerning the first contact with the patient being mainly the nurse. In Belgium the hospitals are divided into an outpatients and inpatients department, at the outpatients department they consult the patients and provide health education.
    • After a break we met up with the rest of our group members to discuss ethical statements. Surprisingly we had no conflict during this discussion, there was not much dis-agreement. In my group I learnt that we should take in consideration various possibilities or situations ‘to think out of the box’, not to stay fixed on what is in front of you.
    • Self-reflection was done after the discussion and I found that quite tough. The discussion among the members of my group helped me discover what was needed for me to improve certain skills. Compliments and critique was given to one another, everyone accepted it well and we asked one another what can be done to help each other in improving our skills. We remained working as a team.
    • This was followed by a group reflection. It was easily done, though a misunderstanding from one group member hindered the progress of this task. I learnt that even if it just one team member that is withdrawn, it has an influence on the group to function as a whole. Overall it was an amazing and interesting day getting to know what my group members had on their minds, to know their strength and weakness and what we can do to maintain the strengths and improve the weakness.
    • The last group discussion we had was based on ethical and moral dilemmas. A case study selected and we discussed our first moral intuition, feelings regarding the case, what we would do about it and specific questions were to be answered. At the beginning I was prepared for disagreement and conflict as ethics is an intense topic, but it was not what I expected. Everyone was professional gave each member opportunity to voice their opinions and opinions was accepted. During this discussion the interesting thing that I learnt was; before interviewing a patient they use the ‘ICE’ method, I- ideas of the patients C- concerns of the patient E- expectations of the patient.
    • Once all our tasks was done we did a self and peer assessment. It was hard as every member did their best on all their tasks in their own unique way. It was also a bit complicated to score a member with a high score and another member cannot receive the same score. But all went well.

On Friday we had our last plenary session. Each group of the IPSIG module did their own presentation on the different themes; and there was a different panel for the different themes. It was interesting to watch how creative each group was but once again the presentations was in Dutch and it was hard for our members to translate to us as they wanted to listen to it as well. It was a very long and hard week and at a same time rather quick. We grew to know our group members on a personal level. It was actually sad to leave them behind.

Besides this IPSIG week in Antwerp I had an amazing time spent in Melderen Village. We had a very warm hearted host (Veronique Fromont) and her family who made us feel at home. Melderen Village has breathtaking scenery and we went for a hike through the forest and to the neighbouring village. It was extremely beautiful with sunny weather and we experienced the sunset as well.

Image By Philicia Bloem
Sunset in Malderen

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