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From left, Caycee Hitt and Brandon Maxwell, of architectural firm Gould Turner Group, talk with VUSM student Dan Tilden and nurse practitioner Meghan Hayes about design needs at the Comprehensive Care Clinic at Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks. (photo by John Russell)

Design project broadens health education program

BY: CAROLE BARTOO

4/12/2012 - The Vanderbilt Program in Interprofessional Learning (VPIL) is bringing students from different health care disciplines together with architects to design better clinics as part of a new project called Design Challenge.

Opportunities like this are what Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and School of Nursing students say they enjoy about VPIL — it expands their view of what and who is part of a health care team.

“Nursing students don’t usually get this kind of opportunity. It’s been fantastic,” said Meghan Hayes, R.N., a second-year Adult Nurse Practitioner student. “A lot of the elements we have included in the design stem directly from client suggestions. Being open to their needs and to those of our colleagues is extremely important to good outcomes,” she said.

Hayes and second-year medical student Dan Tilden have been part of the VPIL program’s team at the Comprehensive Care Clinic for the last year and a half. The clinic, which serves HIV positive patients in a comprehensive way, recently moved from a smaller, stand-alone space to Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks.

The move offered plenty of observations of what works and what doesn’t, and the Design Challenge encouraged them to analyze the process flow.

“Our initial design was a complex series of concentric circles; it helped us to emphasize the things we thought were important, but wasn’t very practical,” Tilden said. “The architects did a great job of bringing us back to reality with a functional design that still kept the spirit of the clinic we wanted.”

VPIL, which is partially funded by the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation and is in its second year of existence, continues to add projects meant to keep students thinking about the entire health care experience.

The program’s overall purpose is to build patient-focused health care teams by placing medical and nursing students into a health care setting with students from Belmont and Lipscomb University’s colleges of pharmacy, and Tennessee State University’s master of social work program.

Since January, architects have been meeting with students regularly at their clinic sites to work on the designs. The architects say the experience has been eye opening for them too.

“It was a great experience to see how the students are learning to provide care in a collaborative environment,” said Brandon Maxwell, an architect at Gould Turner Group. “My role was to help the team create something functional from their vision, and to help them learn from my knowledge of what works and what doesn’t work.”

The architects come from major firms including Earl Swensson Associates, Inc., Gould Turner Group, Gresham Smith and Partners, and Thomas, Miller & Partners, PLLC.

The Design Challenge uses a shell space in One Hundred Oaks as the virtual blank slate for each of the teams to work with. Student teams use the patient populations in their VPIL clinics as the model for the design.

In addition to the Comprehensive Care Clinic (CCC), the second-year students participating in the Design Challenge work at United Neighborhood Health Services Northeast Clinic, the Medicine-Pediatrics Primary Care Clinic at Vanderbilt, and Adult Internal Medicine at Vanderbilt. VPIL first-year students are working in an additional eight clinics.

“This is broadening my idea of what my medical education is. Being able to work with a diverse group of professionals is a tremendous opportunity for me to learn how each of us can contribute to giving patients the best possible care,” Tilden said.

The final Design Challenge projects will be presented at a special event at the School of Nursing on Monday, April 16, at 3:30 p.m. in room 161 of the Nursing Annex.

To learn more about VPIL, go to https://medschool.vanderbilt.edu/hse/.

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