CHEPS Pulse: Finding Solutions Together, November 2018

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Finding Solutions Together: Dentistry and CHEPS
Giving Blueday
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Where in the World Is CHEPS

Finding Solutions Together: Dentistry and CHEPS

When CHEPS and the School of Dentistry came together, “there was a lot of learning on both sides,” said Dr. Carol Anne Murdoch-Kinch, Associate Dean Academic Affairs at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry. Her journey toward collaboration with CHEPS began when Dr. Murdoch-Kinch was asked to determine whether the School of Dentistry had the right numbers and types of faculty to support its curriculum.

The team at the School of Dentistry understood that the biggest load of teaching hours was in the clinics and pre-clinics. They knew that was the place to focus on to understand how changing procedures might provide more efficiency while taking into account the effects on students and workflow. The question became where to go from there.

“You hit a black box,” Dr. Murdoch-Kinch said. “You say ‘there’s got to be a tool but I don’t know how to do this.'” She began a search for experts at the University of Michigan who might be able to help the School answer its questions. She realized that engineering was the right match for their issue and, eventually, she was introduced to Dr. Amy Cohn, Associate Director at the Center for Healthcare Engineering and Patient Safety (CHEPS).

The Dental team at the 2018 Healthcare Engineering and Patient Safety Symposium. Back Row (L to R): Andrea McAuliffe, Adam VanDeusen, PK Chellappan, Riley McKeown, Jordan Goodman, Vidya Ramaswamy. Front Row (L to R): Lauren Hirth, Amy Cohn, Carol Anne Murdoch-Kinch.

They brought together a team consisting of faculty and administrators from Dentistry and faculty and students from CHEPS. At the start of the project, CHEPS students observed operations at the School of Dentistry and met with students, faculty, and staff to conduct interviews. “Each discipline [within the School of Dentistry] had a very different way of doing faculty staffing,” said Lauren Hirth, CHEPS student and Biomechanical Engineering Undergraduate. “There are a lot of nuances within each discipline. There was a lot to learn about how the Dental School actually runs and how faculty members are staffed.” Hirth said the CHEPS students on the team enjoyed learning the culture of the School of Dentistry. “It was a really cool project to be a part of because it was very different worlds coming together,” she said.

“I was really impressed in particular by the students’ ability to immerse themselves in our culture and learn our lingo,” Dr. Murdoch-Kinch said. “In conversations with the students, you might think they’re dental students because they’re using the language appropriately and they really seem to get how things actually work in the clinic. I felt like we were really heard. They weren’t just going through the motions. They really did strive to listen and understand us before they came forward with what they thought was going on in the clinics. That’s really critical and, if I was their teacher, I’d be really pleased. This is something you can only learn by doing, by immersing, and hands-on experiential learning. And the students we worked with were just so amazing. It’s not surprising that they’re really bright and know their stuff but the other piece of it, to have those people skills and to be able to listen, understand, report back to us, and to get it right. With the stakeholders here in the building, they really helped us build credibility and trust that we were approaching this in the right way.”

After their initial observations and interviews, the team came up with a plan to build a simulation of one of the clinics where third and fourth-year dental students see patients. “That was a central hub of the School,” said Hirth. “So, if we focused on that, it would inform other staffing policies.” She explained that the students need to have their work checked by a supervising faculty member at specific mile markers in each type of procedure before they can proceed to the next segment of treatment.

The simulation that CHEPS students built allowed the team to explore several factors and how they would impact student and patient wait times. Factors included whether dental students were able to request a specific faculty member and whether that faculty member had to be in their discipline or could be any qualified faculty member. The team also worked to make sure the simulation tool was flexible, something that was important to stakeholders at the Dental School. With upcoming clinic renovations, they wanted to be able to use the tool to evaluate changes the renovations might bring about.

Carol Anne Murdoch-Kinch, Amy Cohn, and Vidya Ramaswamy at the American Dental Education Association’s fall meeting.

This particular project concluded with the team presenting their findings to faculty and administrators at the School of Dentistry and making some recommendations for the future. Dr. Cohn also had the chance to travel to the American Dental Education Association’s fall meeting in October of 2018 along with Dr. Murdoch-Kinch and Dr. Vidya Ramaswamy, Director of Curriculum Assessment and Program Evaluation at the School of Dentistry. The group presented “It’s a Complex System! How Collaboration With Engineers Can Help Dental Schools Solve Faculty Staffing Challenges.”

Both sides are hoping to work together again soon. Dr. Cohn said, “This was our first time working with the School of Dentistry and a chance to work with a new group of student and faculty collaborators. It’s been exciting to broaden our reach across campus and we’re looking forward to future collaborations with Dentistry so we can continue to learn from one another while working on impactful projects.”

“I already have some ideas for future projects,” said Dr. Murdoch-Kinch. “We feel so lucky that they’re available for us to tap into their expertise and their talent and energy. This is something that’s unique. Not every dental school is situated in a setting like this where we have these resources. And at the same time, you feel like you can be contributing to the education to students that are not in your discipline but are going to benefit from the experience.”

The team members who made this project possible are: Carol Anne Murdoch-Kinch (Associate Dean Academic Affairs at the School of Dentistry), Vidya Ramaswamy (Director of Curriculum Assessment and Program Evaluation at the School of Dentistry), Romesh Nalliah (Clinical Associate Professor and Director of Pre-Doctoral Clinical Education at the School of Dentistry), Amy Cohn (CHEPS Associate Director/IOE Faculty), Kieran Baack (IOE Undergraduate), PK Chellappan (IOE Masters), Tristan Clark (Dental Undergraduate), Jordan Goodman (IOE Undergraduate), Lauren Hirth (BME Undergraduate), Jakob Kiel-Locey (IOE Undergraduate), Andrea McAuliffe (HEPS Masters ), Riley McKeown (IOE Undergraduate), Donald Richardson (IOE PhD), Adam VanDeusen (IOE PhD), Zhipeng Xu (CS Undergraduate).

To support collaborations like our project with the School of Dentistry, consider a donation to CHEPS on Giving Blueday.

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2018 CHEPS Seminar Series
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Where in the World is CHEPS

Dima is pictured during her internship in July and August of 2018 at the American University of Beirut in Beirut, Lebanon. She had the opportunity through the office of Global Public Health to study the dementia epidemic and its effects on caregivers in Lebanon.

See more Where in the World is CHEPS on our webpage.

Center for Healthcare Engineering & Patient Safety | University of Michigan
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