Using an Interdisciplinary Team in a Medical Setting

university of florida logoAs a 2010 MCH Trainee, I have learned the benefits and challenges of working on interdisciplinary team. In the Pediatric Pulmonary Center at the University of Florida, our cystic fibrosis patients regularly visit with a doctor or nurse practitioner, a nurse, a nutritionist, a social worker and occasionally a respiratory therapist. Being a social work student, it has been an enlightening and eye-opening journey to see and start to understand the different roles that all of the disciplines play in getting clients the best care that we can provide.

                Advocacy has always been a central guiding principle in my desire to pursue social work as a profession. Over the years, I have learned that advocacy can look incredibly different depending on the context. However, I had never truly examined what micro level advocacy could look like in a medical setting. After spending some time as an MCH trainee, I have found that an interdisciplinary team essentially advocates for each and every holistic need of the client in order to ensure they are becoming as healthy as they can be in every aspect. I have sat in on meetings where each discipline’s representative is asked to give input, and each perspective is valued. I have attended lectures about psychology attended by pulmonologists and lectures about pulmonology attended by psychologists. I have heard clients who know that their team is able to address their nutritional needs, their financial concerns and their physical condition all at the same appointment. In theory, what an interdisciplinary team can do for a patient is virtually limitless. I must say I do believe we have a long way to go before a client is completely seen as being an individual with diverse biopsychosocial needs separate from their compliance or noncompliance, in a way that may or may not be in congruence with what the medical team’s perspective embodies. However, even with these areas of growth, I have found a great deal of camaraderie and support in my MCH placement, and I have enjoyed seeing firsthand the effectiveness of a strong interdisciplinary team.

                 After working closely with physicians, nurses, dieticians, and other medical personnel, I have come to find that working from a family-centered model of practice that ensures the best care possible for patients requires every field represented and actively valued. Even with a social work background, I came into my traineeship believing that at a medical institution, clients’ biomedical needs were paramount. I have come to find that psychosocial issues in clients’ lives have an undeniable effect on their lives and their physical conditions, more than I even knew before working here. I will continue to value the perspectives of all disciplines wherever I continue my social work career.

Sarah E. Ogdie, MSW Intern

Pediatric Pulmonary Center, UF

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