Team-Centric Friday

  Wednesday, March 13, 2019
  Around Campus

By Jennifer Berghom

RIO GRANDE VALLEY, TEXAS – Students from the UTRGV School of Medicine, School of Nursing, and the Physician Assistant Studies Program in the College of Health Professions received an early glimpse into working in a team-based environment to help a patient.

The School of Medicine hosted the first Team-Centric Friday event March 1, where more than 160 students – nurse practitioner students, physician assistant students and first-year medical students – collaborated on how to treat a patient with vision problems.

“It was great to be able to interact with the M.D. students, as well as the nurse practitioner students,” said Greg Billings, a first-year physician assistant studies student from Mesa, Arizona. “It’s an amazing opportunity for us to begin a relationship early with medical students and nurse practitioners, so that we’re able to work better together once we’re actually in practice.”

Billings and other students said they appreciated how they were able to complement each other’s skill sets. Where medical students excelled in pathology, the PA and nurse practitioners excelled in clinical presentation skills, they said.

“I think that it primes us for when we’re actually in the workplace, working with the rest of the healthcare team on a daily basis,” said first-year medical student Unyime-Abasi Eyobio. “I think it will be good to have that foundation before we actually get started.”

The Team-Centric Friday activity was the realization of a shared vision that faculty members from the schools of Medicine and Nursing, and the College of Health Professions, have had in developing interprofessional education opportunities for students, said Dr. Helene Krouse, RN, associate dean for interprofessional education at the UTRGV School of Medicine.

Citing the Institute of Medicine’s 1999 patient safety report, “To Err is Human,” Krouse said a high number of medical errors were the result of a lack of communication among healthcare professionals. Having students of medicine and other health-related professions collaborate earlier in their careers can help them become more acclimated to working in a team-based environment and improve communication among healthcare providers, she said.

“The goal is to have the patient at the center of care,” Krouse said. “We’re here because of the patient.”

The activity included 16 faculty members from various programs and schools, including internal medicine residents who served as faculty facilitators. These facilitators provided guidance to small interprofessional teams of students as they reviewed the case study.

Participating faculty members said they were impressed with how well students from the different programs worked together. Several faculty members said they noticed the respect with which students treated each other and how they helped one another throughout the exercise.

“I liked how well they meshed,” said Dr. Jawairia Khan, a second-year medical resident in the UTRGV internal medicine residency program at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance.

Despite being from different programs and at different stages in their respective programs, Khan said they knew when to pull back or when to offer their opinions.

“I was surprised they didn’t try to talk over each other,” she said. “They said, this is about a patient, this is the patient’s care, and you have to leave your ego and everything else aside and take care of the patient first. I thought that was very mature for students coming in right off the bat.”


The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley (UTRGV) was created by the Texas Legislature in 2013 as the first major public university of the 21st century in Texas. This transformative initiative provided the opportunity to expand educational opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley, including a new School of Medicine, and made it possible for residents of the region to benefit from the Permanent University Fund – a public endowment contributing support to the University of Texas System and other institutions.

UTRGV has campuses and off-campus research and teaching sites throughout the Rio Grande Valley including in Boca Chica Beach, Brownsville (formerly The University of Texas at Brownsville campus), Edinburg (formerly The University of Texas-Pan American campus), Harlingen, McAllen, Port Isabel, Rio Grande City, and South Padre Island. UTRGV, a comprehensive academic institution, enrolled its first class in the fall of 2015, and the School of Medicine welcomed its first class in the summer of 2016.