Jacqueline Stout-Aguilar is on a mission to ensure health care professionals understand the importance of interprofessional education and teamwork in transforming patient care for the better.
When she graduated from UTMB as a member of the Interprofessional Education (IPE) Scholars Program in 2015, Stout-Aguilar brought that IPE experience to bear in her role at the Texas A&M University College of Nursing in College Station.
At Texas A&M, she introduced an end-of-life, pediatric simulation that included nursing, pharmacy, public health and medical students, the first interprofessional education simulation held at the school. That simulation was so successful it was conducted seven times in the first year and is still being presented across North America to other institutions interested in more broadly implementing IPE into their curricula.
“The IPE Scholars Program gave me the structure and the general knowledge base of IPE and why it’s so critical to improving patient care and patient safety,” Stout-Aguilar said.
Last year, Stout-Aguilar rejoined UTMB as a staff member. As a clinical educator focused on nursing education in the Health System, she helps bridge the gap between the interprofessional emphasis learned in academia and its application and practice on the job.
“All of the literature supports IPE and supports simulations and TeamSTEPPS (Team Strategies and Tools to Enhance Performance and Patient Safety) so we’re trying to integrate those three from the beginning in academics all the way through to the Health System,” she said.
To do that, Stout-Aguilar developed a simulation in the Acute Care for the Elderly (ACE) unit in Jennie Sealy Hospital to deliver TeamSTEPPS education to nursing staff with the ultimate goal of delivering the intervention to physicians and other health care disciplines as well. The focus is on ensuring teamwork and collaboration in a low-risk setting in an effort to improve and enhance patient safety and care.
The simulation and Stout-Aguilar’s focus on implementing IPE in hospital settings is one of the long-term missions of UTMB’s new Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP)—IPE2Practice, said Shelley Smith, UTMB’s director of Interprofessional Education and the QEP.
The QEP is one element of the required re-accreditation package for the Academic Enterprise for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), the regional accrediting body that ensures colleges in the Southern states—including Texas—are meeting the necessary educational standards.
“We want students to understand the importance of IPE throughout their education here,” Smith said. “But, ultimately, the goal is for them to transfer that knowledge into their careers as health care providers so they can improve patient care while working together in teams.”
Stout-Aguilar sees interprofessional education and implementation as the drivers of success for academic health centers moving forward.
“Collaborative initiatives are the keys to all of our success, whether that’s for Best Care, Magnet recognition or other designations,” she said. “It all hinges on being able to work together well and for the betterment of the patient.
“Ultimately, that’s what gets our patients well, keeps them well and keeps them out of the hospital.”