UK Medicine's Experiential Research Demonstrates Power of the TEAM

At the intersection of exceptional patient care and remarkable education is the willingness and desire to adapt. The most forward-thinking health care delivery systems embrace interprofessional collaborative practice as a way to improve quality of care. 

The University of Kentucky Department of Family and Community Medicine has embraced transformation of care by providing an early interprofessional clinical experience: the TEAM Clinic model. 

TEAM, which stands for Teach students, Empower patients, Act collaboratively and Meet health goals, is a medical education reform model adopted by the UK Colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy and Social Work. This collaborative research effort, led by Drs. Carol Hustedde and Keisa Fallin-Bennett, seeks to challenge the norm of limited student exposure to key experiences that characterize transformed care. Faculty from each participating college worked together to review existing curricula and identify three focal elements as the focus for a low-volume, high-service clinic: patient-centeredness, interprofessional collaboration and team-based care.

Nine first-year medical students, two first-year social work graduate students and one pharmacy resident were selected for be part of the interprofessional team which treated medically and socially complex patients. At the outset of the experience, each student was assigned a role specifically adapted for their unique skill set. The twelve-person team was then deliberately paired to encourage broadened perspectives on the scope and role of varied team members. 

Through guided discussion, team participation, supervised patient interactions and facilitated refection, students were able to explore varied elements of patient care including social determinants of health, caring for complex patients and the significance of patient-centeredness. 

“The biggest lesson I have learned is to utilize the strengths of each person on the team. Every health professional is taught to focus on different aspects of patient care during their training, therefore we will all have different strengths to bring to the table,” said Megan Higgins, a participant from the College of Medicine. 

Gabrielle Chamlee, another first-year medicine student, attested to how the TEAM Clinic experience has influenced her own professional patient care goals: 

“Learning all of the wonderful things clinical social workers and pharmacists can offer in the clinic has helped me determine that I want those resources for my future patients. We have learned about community resources and expanded our knowledge of pharmaceuticals. TEAM has truly prepared me for being a well-rounded physician that can effectively collaborate with other health professionals.” 

The continuation of this project, led by Dr. Carol Hustedde, will incorporate elements of transformative care in second- and fourth-year student activities. 

Funding for this study is provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HRSA-26-042).