Students from Schools of Nursing and Medicine open lines of communication with new program

Annie-TatAnnie Tat, right, a master’s-degree leadership student at the School of Nursing, leads the pilot session for PITCH.

UC Davis graduate students at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing and the School of Medicine log countless hours in class on the Sacramento campus and during clinical rotations throughout the region. Yet, rarely do their paths cross in ways that lead to meaningful conversations about their work, their professions or their assumptions. A new grassroots initiative attempts to change that.

“Students realized there’s a lack of interprofessional education between the Schools of Medicine and Nursing,” explained Annie Tat, a master’s-degree leadership student at the School of Nursing and co-lead of PITCH. “We need to serve our surrounding community better. An essential part of that is collaboration between health disciplines.”

“So a group of first-, second- and fourth-year medical students developed an idea for a program, submitted a grant application to Alpha Omega Alpha, a national medical honor society, and PITCH was born,” added Kara Brodie, a second-year medical student and co-leader of the group. “The School of Medicine then matched the initial grant of $9,000 and we created work committees last year.”

PITCH stands for “Partners in Transforming Community Health.” Members established working committees focused on their goals for the program ― community engagement, didactic learning, leadership and program evaluation. In January, Tat and Brodie led the group’s first pilot project, a workshop to see how students responded to PITCH’s content.

“For nearly a year, we worked to determine what we wanted to learn about leadership, about our profession, about collaboration with each other and how that collaboration can benefit our community,” Tat explained. “So we brought together seven medical students and seven students from the School of Nursing, including nurses, physician assistant students and a social worker, for meaningful conversation.”

“The biggest lesson I took away from the session was the importance of communication and collaboration,” said Umer Waris, a first-year medical student. “If we’re going to be truly taking care of patients and have healthy functioning teams, we must build relationships with our health care team members.”

“We learned so much about the different roles and unconscious biases that can come out when we’re under pressure and frustrated in the workplace,” added Zohra Azizi, a master’s-degree leadership student and nurse at UC Davis Medical Center.

By constantly recruiting new members to the group, PITCH organizers hope the program can be sustainable for many years and many more students to come. Faculty mentors echo that sentiment.

“Our hope is that this important project can inform our curriculum reform process, make community leadership a core element of the curriculum and result in it being a specific competency that we expect all students to have upon graduation,” said Thomas Nesbitt, associate vice chancellor for strategic technologies and alliances and PITCH mentor.

“I’m impressed by the initiative of our students in both recognizing the need to understand perspectives of fellow providers and the value that interprofessional collaboration will ultimately have in practice,” added Susan Adams, assistant clinical professor at the School of Nursing and PITCH mentor.

“Ultimately, it’s about our clients, our community and patients,” Tat said. “If we want to be innovative and if we want to have interprofessional collaboration, we need to walk the talk.”