Northern exposure: Improving patient care through inter-professional collaboration

This past summer, third-year pharmacy student Carla Mae Cabato travelled 800 km north of Winnipeg to Norway House as part of a two-week Interprofessional Collaboration (IPC) initiative with fellow Rady Faculty of Health Sciences students from medicine, nursing, dentistry, dental hygiene and rehabilitation sciences.

Five communities partner with the Rady Faculty of Health Sciences to host a group of four to six students: Fisher River Cree Nation, Lake Manitoba First Nation, Misipawistik Cree Nation, Norway House Cree Nation, and Pinaymootang First Nation.

Over the course of the two weeks, Cabato and her fellow students attended educational workshops on Indigenous health, maternal health, and health issues in the community such as prevalent medical conditions, the inter-generational effects of residential schools and the impact of trauma on current health systems. They also had the opportunity to meet local residents and experience traditional practices such as a sweat lodge.

Cabato knew she would be shadowing retail and hospital pharmacists and gaining insight into her own chosen field, but didn’t count on learning so much about the community and the other health care professionals.

“I didn’t realize I would get to shadow people from all the other fields,” said Caboto. “If something isn’t within your scope of knowledge, you have to refer the patient to another health-care professional so knowing what they do is crucial in effectively helping your patient.”

To anyone thinking about participating in the northern IPC initiative, Cabato has some advice, “Just do it, I learned so much about Indigenous health, inter-professional collaboration, more here than in a classroom. It was honestly the best two weeks of my summer.”


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