Published March 16, 2021
Last month, nearly 200 students took part in the Office of Interprofessional Education’s (IPE) Trivia Night. Contrary to its name, the purpose of the event was anything but trivial.
UB’s IPE effort aims to graduate collaborative health professionals who know how to work — and realize the value of working — in teams. According to Patricia Ohtake, assistant vice president for IPE and associate professor of rehabilitation science, health professionals who have team-based skills ultimately provide better care to patients.
As you might imagine, collaborative skills are best honed by working together in person, which has proven difficult during the pandemic. Thus, Ohtake and her IPE colleagues hit upon holding Trivia Night to bring students together when many of the first-year students haven’t been on campus yet. Over three nights, the students put their mind for detail to the test during a game designed for a higher purpose: to help them meet their peers in other health professions programs and get a taste of what working as a team can feel like. Oh, and if a little fun was to be had, so much the better.
Nicholas Taboni, a first-year doctor of physical therapy student, found IPE Trivia Night “a good way to introduce to us what other health professional students are doing at UB, as well as how they may be a resource for us later in our careers. It also helped to show and teach good collaboration and communication techniques between the different health care professional groups,” he said.
While PharmD candidate Eric Raine likewise appreciated the ability to network with students from different professions, he also liked the “live” aspect. “It was a chance to take a break from the monotony of studying in the evening. With everything taking place online in the current environment, events like this help make things feel more ‘normal’ while we continue to take classes remotely.”
While the logistics of running a multi-participant trivia game are substantial, each night pretty much went off without a hitch. Students broke out into interprofessional groups to get to know one another and strategize their answers. Some questions naturally focused on health-related topics, but a working knowledge of general trivia — “Which U.S. president is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery?” — didn’t hurt.
Taboni said he had previously met only one person in his group of six students, another physical therapy major. “The other students in my group included two who were part of the school of pharmacy, and two medical students from the Jacobs school of medicine,” he said. “When we finished answering the questions, we spent the extra time in our small groups getting to know each other and learning about the coursework and experiences the other programs have.”
Raine mentioned meeting a student from the School of Dental Medicine: “It made for very interesting conversations about the cross-over between medications used by dentists and other drugs that we learn about in our pharmacy curriculum.”
A post-event survey, filled out by 94% of the participants, revealed that the vast majority of students who took part in Trivia Night valued the experience. Over 90% of students agreed or strongly agreed that the experience improved their ability to communicate respectfully and effectively with students from other health professions programs; collaborate with students from other health professions programs; and discuss the importance of teamwork and effective communication in health care provision.
The fun factor also emerged in open-ended comments like this one: “I had a lot of fun. Like, a lot of fun. I'd do this again so please host more.”