Building Student Leadership through an Interprofessional Student-Led Retreat
Purpose: The purpose is to describe the use of interprofessional experiential activities to develop student leadership qualities in Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students and Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT) students. Description: Both DPT and MOT accreditation standards consider student development of interprofessoinal leadership skills as an essential part of their professional preparation. Outcomes including strong leadership, effective communication, and teamwork ensure that graduates are prepared to enter a healthcare workforce that requires exemplary skills in interprofessional practice. As such, DPT and MOT programs must demonstrate how they deliberately integrate and reinforce student leadership development throughout their programs. Leadership development models typically focus on the individual student, which does not address the need for students to develop and practice interprofessional leadership. This presentation describes a novel interprofessional leadership development activity that has been successfully implemented as one component of a dual-campus interprofessional program. Summary of Use: Faculty recognized that students needed opportunities to practice class governance, set goals, and take ownership of their learning and professional development. Early in their programs, students are introduced to a formalized class leadership charter. Upper level MOT and DPT student officers provide peer mentoring to facilitate elections for incoming student classes. Once elected, student officers facilitate class governance, goal setting, service activities, and fundraising management. Class representatives coordinate monthly class meetings to identify issues and suggestion that they bring to faculty liaisons and program directors. Recognizing a need to increase student involvement in the design of the professional curriculum, faculty created a midyear student-faculty retreat. To enhance leadership development, faculty assigned all aspects of the retreat to students. Their leaders develop the agenda, identify which curricular issues to discuss with faculty, and prepare recommendations from the class on how to address these issues. Faculty and students from both professions come together to speak frankly about barriers and solutions that will improve the existing curriculum. This event, now in its 13th year, allows students to gain practical experience in organization, planning, and mentoring as well as engage in professional conversations with the faculty. Importance to Members: The student-led retreat incorporates many of the recommendations for developing student leadership skills. Students are involved in the academic organization and curricular planning, have a voice in the direction of the program, and have opportunities for innovation. The students and faculty model Interprofessional competencies, especially focused on communication, teamwork, and respect. Resulting changes include establishment of community service expectations, modifications to semester schedules, and policies for online content delivery. These interprofessional leadership experiences provide students with key skills that can easily be transferred into the work environment.