An osteopathic orientation to interprofessional education

Eric S. Martinez, BS; and David Redding, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: December 5, 2022

Accepted: February 26, 2024

Published: May 7, 2024

  • Eric S. Martinez, BS, 

    Department of Neuromusculoskeletal Medicine/Osteopathic Manipulative Medicine, College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific at Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, CA, USA

  • David Redding, DO, 

    Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, CA, USA


Context: The osteopathic tenets may serve as a useful guideline for an interprofessional program. There is an alignment between the osteopathic tenets and the concept of interprofessional education (IPE). IPE occurs when students from two or more professions work with each other to collaborate or improve healthcare outcomes. Holistic treatment is fundamental in both instances, and the interrelatedness of structure and function requires acknowledgment of all healthcare professionals’ roles in treating a patient. IPE allows students to gain a better understanding of their own professional roles and the roles of their fellow healthcare providers in treating patients more effectively.

Objectives: The objectives of this analysis are to evaluate the ability of an interprofessional summer workshop/lecture utilizing an osteopathic focus to educate students from different healthcare colleges about the interconnectedness of the systems of the human body and how working with a team-based approach will ultimately benefit their collective patients. A secondary objective was to determine the students’ perceptions before and after the lecture/workshop to see if there were any perceived differences among students in different healthcare professions at either time.

Methods: This was a retrospective data analysis conducted on pretest/posttest surveys completed by 73 incoming students from six different healthcare colleges participating in the Summer Preparedness and Readiness Course (SPaRC), held annually at Western University of Health Sciences (WUHS) in Pomona, California. Analysis was conducted on responses collected during the SPaRC programs of 2013, 2016, and 2019. Participants were given surveys containing five questions scored on a five-point Likert scale. The surveys were given before and after an integrated lecture/hands-on workshop presented at SPaRC that reviewed multiple studies showing the utility of connecting the healthcare professions to best treat a patient.

Results: A total of 73 students responded to both the prelecture and postlecture surveys. When the number of positive scores were totaled from students from all colleges, there was an increase in positive responses from 190 (52.2 %) in prelecture surveys when compared to 336 (92.3 %) in postlecture surveys. A Wilcoxon signed-rank test suggested that the lecture workshop elicited a significant improvement in scores from prelecture to postlecture for all students (Z=−6.976, p=0.000). Median scores improved from 3.60 at baseline to 4.40 after the lecture/workshop. Secondary analysis conducted utilizing Kruskal-Wallis H to examine the differences between the responses of the different colleges prelecture and postlecture showed no significant differences prelecture (H [6]=7.58, p=0.271) and a significant difference between postlecture answers (H [6]=14.04, p=0.029). A series of post hoc independent Kruskal-Wallis H analyses was conducted to identify where differences were, and the only identifiable difference after Bonferroni corrections was between students from the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine college and the Physician Assistant’s college after the lecture/survey (p=0.041).

Conclusions: An interprofessional program with the osteopathic principles of focusing on body unity and relatedness of structure and function may serve as a helpful tool for uniting healthcare professionals in their ultimate goal of better serving their patients.

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