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A complex case: Interdisciplinary teams tackle a public health challenge

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VCU School of Pharmacy student Nick Rebold, VCU School of Medicine students Lily Jia and Sarah Rozycki, and VCU School of Pharmacy student Kenneth Qiu formed the winning team in the Clarion Case Competition.

Presenting to a faculty panel on a Saturday morning in March, five interdisciplinary teams of health sciences students attempted to persuade the mock hospital board of directors that they had the best solution for reducing the incidence of stroke in Kentucky.

“We had to analyze what was causing the problem and think of a patient-centered solution,” said Sasha Dickey. The junior biomedical engineeringmajor was one of 19 students who participated in the third annual Virginia Commonwealth University Clarion Case Competition, which challenges students to develop a plan for addressing a current issue facing health care organizations nationwide. The team with the winning solution goes to the University of Minneapolis on April 17 to represent VCU at the national competition.

This year’s case centered on a rural population in Kentucky located within “the stroke belt,”a contiguous cluster of states in the United States with markedly higher than average rates of stroke mortality.  Students were charged with identifying the underlying issues that caused the targeted area to have a high stroke prevalence and developing an affordable plan to reduce the stroke rate in the community. The judges’ panel evaluated their analysis in the context of real world standards of practice.

“We were looking for that interdisciplinary solution,” said Jonathan DeShazo, Ph.D.,  director of the Master of Health Administration programin the School of Allied Health Professions and co-chair for the competition. “This event gives students who would otherwise be siloed away from each other a chance to see the perspectives of their colleagues in other health disciplines.”

The winning team consisted of two first-year medical students and two first-year pharmacy students. The team’s solution included a health advocacy campaign that encouraged community members to see doctors for preventive health screenings and a fleet of mobile health care buses that would provide stroke screenings, risk assessment, counseling and referrals to area physicians. In addition to identifying causes of the problem and solutions to it, the team’s presentation included suggested metrics for measuring the solution’s success and a cost-benefit analysis of the programs.

“Moving forward with increased complexities in our patient populations as well as changes in the way care is delivered and financed, health care is not going to function well outside of the context of an effective team,” said third-year dental student Lyubov Slashcheva, who organized this year’s event. “This case competition is a great way to build such expertise in our developing health care professionals.”

 

Feature image at top - From left to right: First-year VCU School of Pharmacy student Nick Rebold, first-year VCU School of Medicine student Sarah Rozycki, first-year VCU School of Pharmacy student Lily Jia, and first-year VCU School of Medicine student Kenneth Qiu formed the winning team in the Clarion Case Competition. 

 

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