Simulation Center Hosts Interprofessional Workshop on Diabetes and Pregnancy

This month, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso (TTUHSC El Paso) Center for Advanced Teaching and Assessment in Clinical Simulation (ATACS), Regional Simulation and Training Center and the Gayle Greve Hunt School of Nursing (GGHSON) simulation lab hosted the first annual interprofessional health education workshop. The event, which focused on diabetes and pregnancy, brought together professionals from 10 different medical programs and a spectrum of specialty areas.

With El Paso’s population at a disproportionately high risk of gestational and postpartum diabetes, the workshop’s focus was to depict the treatment of various associated complications — such as high blood pressure, preeclampsia, urinary tract infections and congenital fetal anomalies — in a collaborative and cross-disciplinary environment.

ATACS Director Sanja Kupesic, M.D., Ph.D., saw the need and the opportunity to create a safer, more efficient and more comprehensive approach to treating these increasingly common conditions. “It’s estimated that one in 10 patients will be affected by gestational diabetes,” Dr. Kupesic said. “Unfortunately, in the Hispanic population, diabetes is more common. It occurs in every third or every second patient, which makes it very important for our physicians practicing on the border. Basically, each of us — from family medicine to Ob-Gyn, emergency medicine, pediatrics and radiology — deals with these types of problems, so that’s why we started with diabetes as one of our [joint] topics of interest.”

This first-of-its-kind workshop attracted a total of 180 participants from across multiple institutions, including the TTUHSC El Paso Paul L. Foster School of Medicine (PLFSOM) and the GGHSON; the University of Texas at El Paso Biomedical Engineering and Cooperative Pharmacy residency programs; and the New Mexico State University-Doña Ana Community College joint Diagnostic Medical Sonography program. The workshop incorporated 12 skill stations, each addressing a condition or complication associated with diabetes and pregnancy.

What made the activity unique wasn’t just that it converged so many different disciplines, programs and experience levels, explained Scott Crawford, M.D., assistant professor for the PLFSOM Department of Emergency Medicine and one of the event’s key organizers. Continuing medical education is just as important for practicing medical professionals as it is for students.

“Pharmacy, sonography and nursing students get to interact with clinicians through an activity like [the] interprofessional simulation in a way that they wouldn’t necessarily be able to in a clinical setting, where practitioners might otherwise feel rushed,” Dr. Crawford said. “And unfortunately, sometimes those specialties feel intimidated to bring up questions. So this group activity allows them to share their expertise so we can understand better from each other what each group can add to the clinical care of a patient that has these complications.”

The hope is that these conferences will help serve as a catalyst in an increasingly patient-centered, holistic approach to clinical care. Dr. Kupesic said, “This is the trend elsewhere, but also here, and I hope this is just the first in a series of workshops [like this] to take place on our campus.”

Photos by Chris Espinosa