Interprofessional Education Workshops

Finding ways to work together, across professions.

You’re an early childhood educator, and one of the families at your centre just lost their home and everything inside to an early morning fire.

You’ve been working to provide supports to a family with an autistic child, and you’ve just been made aware the mother is struggling with an addiction.

These are just a couple of examples of challenges many of our Bow Valley College graduates will encounter at some point in their careers.

Ongoing struggles and the fallout from life-altering events will require help from multiple professionals and services to deal with urgent needs, find immediate and long-term solutions, and to get things back on track for the people impacted.

Dedicated and experienced instructors at Bow Valley College prepare our graduates for real-world challenges through their daily classes. And they also prepare them to interact and collaborate with other professionals, to do so.

Bow Valley College offers Interprofessional Education Workshops to students in many of its diploma programs including Social Work, Justice Studies, Child and Youth Care, and learners in its Pharmacy Technician program.

The workshops challenge learners to start thinking about who they might call about a client in distress and how to address the needs of the person they’re working. “When you’re working in real-life, you intersect with these different professions, and you have to work together. We want to help students gain an understanding about what people’s roles are, their different perspectives, and to have respect for what they do,” says Sandra Logan, Program Chair, School of Community Studies.

Brandi Rawson is a 2020 graduate of the Disability Studies Diploma Program. She was apprehensive about taking the workshop but immediately saw the value in it. “It was so good that we took it because it gave us that opportunity to meet people from the other programs. Now that we’re in a work environment, you realize how important all of the programs are in working together,” says Rawson.

The Interprofessional Education Workshops offer graduates the opportunity to gain essential skills that will be of critical importance to employers looking to hire. Those who take the workshops will be able to recognize which resources, supports, and unpaid supports are available. “At the end of the day, our drive and our outcomes are based on the people we support. And so, if we work together, people don’t fall through the cracks or feel frustrated with systems, and don’t feel excluded,” says Elizabeth MacGillivray, a Disability Studies Instructor at Bow Valley College.

The networking opportunities are endless. If these newly training professionals need advice that falls outside of the scope of their practice, they have options. “I stayed in contact with an individual in the workshop, so I can go to her and get helpful references or programs or even website suggestions,” says Rawson.

The makeup of the workshops has evolved since its inception in 2018. Bow Valley College now offers a three-hour-long virtual session for first-year students and a six-hour virtual session for second-year students. “We get into assumptions and biases because we all have them. And we do activities that sort of bust the stereotypes and myths that you might hold,” says Logan.

Working with other professionals is all about putting the person, the child, family or patient first. “I think of it as a puzzle. We all need to link up with the person at the centre,” says MacGillivray.

Rawson got a job the day after graduation. She is an Educational Assistant in a high school, working one-on-one with a student with complex needs. “Going forward, I will be working with children with behavioural needs. I will work with some with addiction issues. Had I not taken that workshop, I don’t think I would have had the resources to refer to to make the people that I work with have the most success moving forward.”

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