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Over the next several weeks, we’ll be sharing blog posts from Quality Forum attendees on their experiences and favourite sessions. Our fourth recap is from Diana Linnyk, a Cardiology Technology graduate and a Bachelor of Health Science student at Thompson Rivers University with a passion for medicine and technical advancements in health care. Diana attended “Engaging Students in High Quality Care.” Read on to see what she learned:

Students often come up with innovative ideas but may not have access to support or funding. During my classes and practicum, I also thought of a few things that could be easy to improve but didn’t even know who I should share these ideas with. Whether it was regarding the delivery of courses, students’ role in diagnostic cardiology department (my area of specialization), or the patient’s hospital experience, I saw some obvious issues that haven’t seen improvement in years. As soon as I registered for this session, I knew that it was going to be very relevant and informative. “Engaging Students in High Quality Care” rapid fire presentations displayed three fantastic projects involving students, demonstrating that a collaboration of student minds and experienced professionals can make real change in health care and the community.

James Chan and Sarah Fraser presented a strategy for quality improvement on the side of health care providers that targets low involvement of doctors in quality improvement possibilities. They got medical students to participate in an Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) certificate as a part of their curriculum. This certificate provides learners with a variety of tools for patient safety and quality improvement and allows them to deliver excellent, safe care. As a result, medical students learned to speak about safety concerns, a first and most crucial step in quality improvement. Chan and Fraser mentioned the possibility of reaching out to students in other concentrations and disciplines such as nursing. It is an incredible opportunity for students to learn how to speak up about issues in health care and how new graduates can facilitate quality improvement even before they start working.

In the second presentation, Jessica Inskip talked about a great student-led initiative that aims to reduce wait times for patients awaiting physical therapy and rehabilitation services and also targets staffing issues in rural centers. This issue is highly relevant in most rural and even urban health centers and the presented solution can be universal. The Prince Rupert Student-led Interprofessional Clinic (PRISM) Clinic is an excellent collaboration of occupational therapy and physio therapy students that aids with high staff turnover by covering some of the most needed positions, helps people with chronic disease to improve their quality of life, and provides students with training in primary care. Students were able to help patients in remote areas or without means of transportation by doing home visits. As a result, wait times were reduced from 189 days to 23 days over four years, a very impressive accomplishment. Going forward, the PRISM Clinic is hoping to increase the number of patients, link patients with existing community centers and support programs, and expand its services to include students in speech and language pathology, medicine, social work, and nurse practitioners.

In the last presentation of this session, Maura MacPhee reviewed the progress of the I-CAN nursing project that helps homeless people in Vancouver. This year, the I-CAN project was also a runner up for the Trailblazer Award. UBC nursing students partnered up with community organizations to improve care for Vancouver Downtown East Side (DTES). Individuals in this area have complex health needs and have the least access to health care. Through online courses, modules and activities, projects, and interprofessional chapters and networks participants of the I-CAN projects developed a plan that focused on population and individual experiences of this community. Teams of nursing students made visits to the DTES and provided those in need with podiatry care, clean socks, and referrals to free clinics to help them with other health issues. This highly successful initiative established change is slow and takes time, but the impact could be seen instantly as people were happy and anticipated future visits from the I-CAN team. Due to close proximity of the DTES to Vancouver Chinatown district, the project participants also considered offering translation to Cantonese and Mandarin languages to accommodate a larger population.

These presentations showed that students can drive the change in health care and that there are many opportunities for collaboration with professionals in the field. Together, they can create innovative projects that strive on open-mindedness, creativity, and desire to help others.