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Students helping students: a DMNB student led initiative

DMNB Respiratory Therapy IPE program 2017 web

Members of the organizing group of the IPE session. Madison Howatt (Respiratory Therapy student); Ali Alkhawaji (PhD candidate, Division of Anatomy, Dalhousie); Dr. Akram Jaffar (Anatomy Professor); Sean Gormley (Medical Student); Amy Brown (Medical student); and Landan MacDonald (Medical Student). Photo submitted by Sean Gormley.


In his first year as a medical student, Sean Gormley (Class of 2019) participated in an inter-professional education program where he met a first-year Respiratory Therapy (RT) student from the New Brunswick Community College (NBCC). During the course of their conversation about their respective programs, it came to light that the anatomy lab at DMNB was not part of her program’s curriculum and expressed interest in seeing it.

Following this conversation, Sean spoke with the DMNB anatomy instructor, Dr. Akram Jaffar who liked the idea and thought it may be of benefit to all RT students. “We met with the DMNB Associate Dean, Dr. Jennifer Hall and the NBCC RT Coordinator, Tammie Fournier, who both granted permission for such a session. We all thought it would be a great inter-professional education session and planned it from there,” Sean recalled.

Under the guidance of Dr. Jaffar, Sean and two of his classmates, Amy Brown and Landan MacDonald, compiled a lab manual focusing on the curriculum objectives of the RT students. The first session held in 2015 had approximately 20 participants comprised of third year RT students and instructors. The lab session was three hours. Three stations were organized for upper respiratory, lower respiratory and cardiac anatomy. Each station had a medical student who presented the relevant anatomy and clinical relevance of it to RT practice.

The session also included a demonstration by a respiratory therapy instructor on how to properly insert a tracheostomy tube. Students were able to gain valuable experience by practicing the procedure.

“Last year we taught only third year students and instructors, but this year we expanded and taught every RT students (years one to three) as well as instructors. We were just shy of 50 people!” Sean exclaimed. “The session went great. According to the student evaluations, they loved it, and found it to be quite useful. 100 percent of students agreed that IPE [inter-professional education] sessions such as this should be continued for future RT classes.”

The initial session in 2015 took the three medical students one month to organize. This included obtaining permission, compiling the manual, learning the anatomy they had not yet learnt, developing the evaluation form, and practicing their presentations. In 2016 it only took two weeks to organize. They updated the manual based upon feedback they received last year and modified the evaluation form.

The students will be presenting their work at the 2017 Conference on Canadian Medical Education (CCME) in April. They hope to engage other DMNB students as they move into clerkship to ensure the continuation of the inter-professional session.