On Long Island, training future nurses to collaborate with future doctors

NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing has launched a new collaborative model for nursing education in which nursing students work alongside medical students for their clinical rotations, with an emphasis on considering the environmental factors that influence a patient’s health.

The program, which takes place at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island, is an example of interprofessional education, which aims to develop effective working relationships between different types of healthcare students and practitioners to support health outcomes. Research shows that interprofessional healthcare has many benefits, not only improving patient care, but collaboration can lead to fewer preventable errors, reduced healthcare costs, and improved working relationships.

“To my knowledge, there isn’t another structured interprofessional education program like this at other nursing schools. Some schools do one-off interprofessional simulations or experiences, but our program at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island is unique,” said Selena Gilles, associate dean of the undergraduate program at NYU Meyers and a Long Island resident.

Twelve nursing students were selected to participate in the program’s first cohort, which began in the fall of 2021. On their clinical days at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island, each nursing student is paired with a medical student. The dyads are assigned to care for the same patients and work together to assess them, develop care plans, and attend rounds and “huddles” of interdisciplinary healthcare teams where their assessments and care plans are discussed.

“This program speaks to the importance of collaborative practice,” said Vincenza Coughlin, the director of professional nursing practice and education at NYU Langone Hospital—Long Island. “We each bring our unique and complementary knowledge and skills when working together in patient care.”

Notably, the students assess patients’ social determinants of health—the environmental conditions such as housing, education level, income, and access to healthy foods that can influence one’s health. This holistic view of people encourages students to think beyond a diagnosis, including how patients end up in the hospital, what hospital services could benefit them, and how to improve health after discharge, beyond the hospital setting.

“Nursing and medical students forming one team, and working toward the same goal of moving patients toward wellness, is really the essence of what healthcare should be in the 21st century,” said Alice Nash, system senior director of nursing professional development & clinical outcomes at NYU Langone Health.

The interprofessional education program, which will run for five years, is funded by a $7 million gift from Howard Meyers and his late wife Rory. The funds provide full-tuition scholarships plus room and board for the school year for the nursing students selected.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare professionals have pivoted to work in new ways as interdisciplinary teams, with nurses working closely alongside doctors, respiratory therapists, physical therapists, and others,” said Eileen Sullivan-Marx, dean of NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing. “While interprofessional education has long been an interest of ours at NYU, teamwork has never been more important and we are thrilled that this interprofessional program is now underway preparing a new generation of nurses and physicians.”

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