During his medical training, Sebastian Friedrich worked in tandem with a nursing student. Doing so taught him things that medical school never did. The “Operation Team” project aims to promote understanding between professionals in the healthcare industry, thereby improving patient care.
Two intensive weeks: Sebastian Friedrich was part of IPAPÄD, the “Interprofessional Training Ward in Pediatrics” at the University Medical Center Freiburg.
It was one of my first days as a medical intern on the “Treasure Island” pediatric ward at St. Josef Hospital in Freiburg. The urine collection bag just wouldn’t stay put. The adhesive strips kept coming loose as soon as the two-year-old girl started moving around her hospital room. I experienced first-hand just how complex and time-consuming it can be to collect a urine sample. Carmen, a nursing student, stepped in to lend a hand. Carmen and I were part of IPAPÄD, the “Interprofessional Training Ward in Pediatrics.” Medical and nursing students can participate in this project at the Center for Children’s and Youth Medicine at Freiburg University Hospital for two weeks. Carmen and I shared responsibility for four young patients.
With a safety net
Every morning, we grabbed the patients’ charts and studied their lab results together. Then we did our rounds together, not as a nursing student and a medical student, but as a team. Together, we asked the children and their parents about their problems and needs. We also carried out examinations and treatments together.
The day’s agenda: study laboratory values, go on rounds, treat patients – never alone, always in a team with the nursing staff.
I learned a great deal in the process, especially about the practical, everyday processes involved on a hospital ward. Nurses know a lot more about that than we medical students do – despite our years of education. IPAPÄD gave me the opportunity to see and try out many aspects of the nurses’ work for myself, and now I’m fully aware of the consequences of my instructions to the nurses.
“Why does a doctor give certain instructions? Why do nurses carry out tasks a certain way?”
Doctors delegate a lot of the work to nurses, such as nebulizer treatments or checking bandages, so it’s important to know more about the background of that work. Why does a doctor give certain instructions? Why do nurses carry out tasks a certain way? The program included half an hour for reflection every day. It was a very important experience for me. All the participants and supervisors came together during that time to look at what had gone well during the last 24 hours – and what hadn’t. IPAPÄD was like getting a jump start to my career – but with a safety net!
Take responsibility, try something out – and lose the fear of making mistakes. And that’s just what Sebastian has learned.
I was able to take responsibility, work in a protected space, try things out - and also make mistakes without harming a patient. Because, of course, we were closely monitored by our nursing and medical supervisors the whole time. And we could ask them for advice and help at any time. Since the beginning of August, I have now been working at St. Josef's Hospital on another pediatric ward as an assistant physician.
Valuable experience in the IPAPÄD: Everyone likes a team player, including patients and their parents.
Thanks to IPAPÄD, I saw myself as a member of a team – and not a lone fighter – right from the very beginning. I still try to give feedback to the nurses and get feedback from them. I’ll ask them, “What are you doing right now? What can I do to give you the time and support you need? Can one of you maybe explain this or that to me?” And I feel like my colleagues aren’t the only ones responding positively to this approach. When doctors and nurses work well together, it’s good for our young patients and their parents as well.