Eastern Michigan University healthcare students learn about the value of collaboration in patient care during virtual discussion of real-life medical case

YPSILANTI – In a virtual, online format, Eastern Michigan University healthcare students learned crucial lessons from a complex and real-life medical case this month.

The EMU College of Health and Human Services hosted its first virtual EMU Excellence in Interprofessional Education event Friday, Nov. 13, as students gained invaluable insights in collaborative patient care.

More than 150 students, staff and medical personnel participated in the event, in which students explored the case study of Sean, a local 51-year-old from Livonia who contracted COVID-19 in late March before suffering from a stroke almost two weeks into his quarantine.

Sean’s recovery included months of rehabilitation with a number of different medical specialists. On June 12, 64 days after he arrived at the inpatient therapy facility to begin his recovery, he was discharged to an emotional clap out.

His therapy continues at home with the help of his doctors, and he is also a part of the Speech Aphasia Program at University of Michigan. The lesson to students: His recovery would not have been possible without the dedication of the multiple medical specialists that were involved in getting him to where he is today.

Linda Myler and Kathy Seurynck on Zoom
EMU professors of nursing, Linda Myler, left, and Kathy Seurynck, shown on screen at the first virtual EMU Excellence in Interprofessional Education day, coordinated the event.

The session began with a description of the case by event coordinators Linda Myler and Kathy Seurynck, professors of nursing at Eastern. The students then broke into numerous groups to discuss the case before returning to the main Zoom session to hear the observations of the medical professionals actually involved with the case.

Here are some of the insights the team shared with students:

Timothy Sesi, medical director and lead physician of the team

• The rehabilitation team is tasked with getting the patient to a functional standpoint. This group includes an even wider group of professionals than you might imagine, including people such as the unit secretary, janitorial services and patient transport.

• He was the quarterback of the group as it combined the active neurological and medical issues with a focus on recovery. He would wear multiple hats on multiple different days, acting as the cheerleader of the group at all times.

• Part of his job is to keep the patient encouraged and to help see the light at the end of tunnel. “You set out a path and show where they are in this journey,” Sesi said.

• His advice to those in different disciplines is to look at your goals and others’ goals and hear others’ point of view.

• You catch more with honey than vinegar.

• Continually reassess the situation as you seek to motivate and inspire those around you.

• A leader is not a leader without a team to lead.

• The team is always in contact and is on alert 24/7. The whole team is bedside several times a week.

Physical therapist Suraiya Essack-Varachia

• Sean’s wife, Marla, played a key role in his success. She came in almost daily and made a huge difference.

• The human touch is something you can lose without family members being involved.

• It’s very important to listen to others on the team.

Occupational therapist Marie Miller

• We were super blessed to see Sean’s enthusiasm, which is contagious.

• They challenged Sean to reestablish roles he had before the stroke.

• Her OT group’s motto: “Hope starts here.”

Cary Culver, nurse

• You reinforce tough love as they did nursing interventions that helped Sean’s outcomes, such as encouraging him to get up out of bed and into his chair.

• We continued to learn from each other.

Gordon Krainen, U-M speech therapy

“It truly does take a village.”

The clap out

The event ended with a video of Sean’s clap out when he left the hospital.

It was an incredibly emotional moment that underscored the ultimate lesson of the IPE virtual event: Teamwork and collaboration among medical professionals from varying areas can yield marvelous and inspiring outcomes for patients.

Nursing student Connor Williams said the event was one of the best educational experiences he has had as a student at EMU.

“Thank you to the team who worked together to make this happen,” he said. “I was grateful for the opportunity, and would love to participate in something like this again in the future."

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves more than 16,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.

November 18, 2020

Written by:
Geoff Larcom

Geoff Larcom