At Loyola University Chicago, Medical and Nursing Students are Learning Together

News Archive January 16, 2012

At Loyola University Chicago, Medical and Nursing Students are Learning Together

MAYWOOD, Ill. -- In the traditional practice of medicine, the physician is boss, and tells everyone else what to do.

But at Loyola University Chicago, medical and nursing students are learning a new model, in which doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals work as a team. Loyola is among the first universities in the United States to teach such a collaborative model.

Loyola's new Interprofessional Leadership Committee is developing a joint curriculum in which select classes will include both nursing and medical students. The classes will be co-taught by faculty from Loyola's Stritch School of Medicine and Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Such collaboration makes sense in many areas of medicine. For example, what medical students learn in performing health assessments is similar to what advanced-practice nurses learn.

A new Center for Collaborative Learning, now under construction, will be located between the nursing and medical schools. Its features include a state-of-the-art clinical simulation center with a six-bed virtual hospital and home-care environment. Teams of nursing, medical and health-science students will learn how to better care for patients.

Also under development is a new Institute for Interprofessional Education.

The new initiative is a big change from the traditional model, in which residents, consulting physicians and nurses suppressed their opinions and deferred to the attending physician, said  Aaron Michelfelder, MD, FAAFP, FAAMA, co-chair of the Interprofessional Leadership Committee.

The old model, Michelfelder said, can lead to medical mistakes. "The safest and most efficient way to care for patients is to have a team model," he said.

In the new model, nurses, doctors and other clinicians work as a team, and no one is afraid to speak up. Everyone works together to develop the best plan for treating each patient, said Fran R. Vlasses, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, ANEF, FAAN, co-chair of the Interprofessional Leadership Committee.

"There aren't many nursing schools that can say they have a great relationship with an energetic, forward-thinking medical school," Vlasses said. "This is what sets us apart."

The Loyola University Chicago Health Sciences Division (HSD) advances interprofessional, multidisciplinary, and transformative education and research while promoting service to others through stewardship of scientific knowledge and preparation of tomorrow's leaders. The HSD is located on the Health Sciences Campus in Maywood, Illinois. It includes the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing, the Stritch School of Medicine, the biomedical research programs of the Graduate School, and several other institutes and centers encouraging new research and interprofessional education opportunities across all of Loyola University Chicago. The faculty and staff of the HSD bring a wealth of knowledge, experience, and a strong commitment to seeing that Loyola's health sciences continue to excel and exceed the standard for academic and research excellence. For more on the HSD, visit
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