1. Wilkerson, Katherine BSN, RN

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I would like to thank Gordon et al for their perceptive article, "Interprofessional Education: Finding a Place to Start."1 They provide a thorough discussion of the need for interprofessional education and the outcomes they observed after allowing nursing and medical students to collaborate in the classroom setting to solve various problems and gain a greater appreciation for what each profession contributes to the health care environment.


As the authors note, an understanding of the need for collaboration is essential for all nursing students. Nurses are often viewed as the gatekeeper to patients, serving as a liaison between the patient and other health care team members. For nurses to be able to coordinate and collaborate to provide excellent patient care, they need an understanding of and appreciation for the role of every team member. Interprofessional education is the perfect opportunity to expose nursing students not only to physicians, but also to all members of the health care team.


One way in which students can deepen their understanding is by designating specific clinical time to shadow and participate in patient care in a new way under the guidance of another health care professional. I was able to personally have this opportunity during my senior year while pursuing my BSN, and I found it to be a valuable and enlightening experience. In addition to working with medical students, nursing students should learn the difference between occupational and physical therapy not only through seminars, but also through their own personal observation of the tasks completed by their multidisciplinary team members. Conversely, occupational and physical therapy students should be exposed to how medications are prepared in a hospital pharmacy and administered by nurses, the role that nutritionists play in dietary consultation, and the roles of other health care professionals in delivering care.


By affording nursing students with an opportunity to shadow other health care providers in the clinical setting, students can gain an understanding of the specific contributions that each profession makes to the health care team. Through these clinical experiences they also will develop the empathy and skill needed to truly advocate for interprofessional collaboration-a team of health care providers working jointly to improve a patient's condition.


Katherine Wilkerson, BSN, RN


Traditional BSN option, School of Nursing


Saint Louis University, Missouri






1. Gordon MA, Lasater K, Brunett P, Dieckmann NF. Interprofessional education: finding a place to start. Nurse Educ. 2015; 40( 5): 249-253. [Context Link]