Great new IDEAS

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By Jill Langlois

A project to prepare nursing and social work students to deal with disasters was launched last Thursday.

The Inter-Professional Disaster Emergency Action Studies (IDEAS) Network will teach students how to use teamwork in the field of healthcare, especially during a crisis.

“We definitely need more help in that area”, said fourth-year nursing student Satinder Tumber. “I think we should focus more on communication and we should also find out what more we can do to educate patients.”

The IDEAS network’s aims to promte collaboration among health care professionals and to deliver effective care in any future disasters or pandemics.

Suha Diab, a fourth-year social work student, has seen how a similar program benefits health care workers.

“When I volunteered in Ghana this summer, they were also working on better co-ordination between professions,” she said.

George Bielmeier, associate director of the Students and Undergraduate Teaching program in social work, said September 11 set an example of how the project can help.

“If you consider what happened five years ago and even since that time, there is a need for more organization and preparedness for health professionals who need to know how to respond to a crisis situation,” said Bielmeier.

“I would support such an endeavour (as the IDEAS Network project). Obviously there’s a great need for networking and for ways for people to be able to connect with one another.”

Trish Dryden, acting director of the Applied Research Centre at Centennial College, played a major role in launching the project.

“We’ve done a lot of literary research to try to find out what the best instruments and tools are to evaluate team performance, and it’s very complicated to do,” Dryden said.

“We know the communication system has had problems so we are going to be looking at some of the work the University of Toronto has been doing in this area, as well as other institutions, to try to see if we can put together the best of the best.”

The project’s two-part curriculum consists of a web-based instructional model as well as simulated disaster and pandemic scenarios.

Ryerson University, the Michener Institute for Applied Health Sciences, the University of Toronto, George Brown College and Centennial College are all working as a team to implement the Health Canada-funded endeavor.

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