Regi Robnett and Jim Cavanaugh coordinate OT and PT students’ instruction to seniors on fall prevention

March 20, 2014

Twelve graduate students enrolled in the Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy education programs are participating in a semester-long immersive interprofessional education experience this spring.  Organized into four groups, the students are teaching  “A Matter of Balance: Managing Concerns About Falls” (AMOB), an evidence-based, 16-hour curriculum, commonly taught by specially trained adult lay leader volunteers to older adults around the country. AMOB courses are organized and sponsored locally by the Southern Maine Agency on Aging.

Regi Robnett, Ph.D., OTR/L, professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy, and Jim Cavanaugh, PhD., PT, associate professor in the Department of Physical Therapy, who have both served as volunteer clinicians for the AMOB program, are helping to coordinate student involvement in this “Service-Learning” project.  “From our perspective, this is a tremendously exciting opportunity to connect future health professionals with members of the local community concerned about falls,” says Cavanaugh.  “Students not only will be able to help seniors learn how to overcome the fear of falling and to prevent falls, but also will learn valuable life lessons from the seniors in return.  This is a wonderful example of a truly shared learning experience.”

In true interprofessional fashion, the students also have an opportunity to develop their communication and collaboration skills while gaining perspectives from each discipline. Says Cavanaugh, “Giving students from different disciplines an opportunity to learn with, from, and about one another will help them form a deep understanding of each other’s expertise and serve them well as future advocates, educators, and as team-oriented clinicians.”

UNE has a strong Interprofessional Education Collaborative, which promotes students from various health care professions learning and working together in various capacities. The practice represents the cutting edge of contemporary health professions training.