The first signs of fall are evident in the hues of orange and red trees that line the pathway of Valley Children’s Place Drive, leading up to Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera. Inside a large conference room, at the bottom level of the premier pediatric medical center, students from the College of Health and Human Services (CHHS) at Fresno State have gathered on a midday afternoon for the first in a series of Interprofessional Education Workshops, organized by CHHS and Valley Children’s.

A glance around the room shows a mix of disciplines, both at the professional and student level. At a large round table sits speech-language pathology senior Melissa Arseneau and just across from her are students specializing in the fields of social work and physical therapy. To either side of them are health care professionals from Valley Children’s, ranging from registered nurses to physicians. At each of the 16 tables, the intermixed groups are engaged in thorough conversation. The room is abuzz with excitement.


A total of 97 students, at the undergraduate and graduate levels, majoring in nursing, physical therapy, social work, therapeutic recreation and speech-language pathology participated in the November 12th workshop. Together, they collaborated on a case study with the 63 pediatric health care professionals on hand, including physicians, registered nurses, social workers, occupational therapists, physical therapists, pharmacists and medical doctors, to name a few.

The workshop has been a year in the making, said Dr. Marie Gilbert, a lecturer in the School of Nursing at Fresno State, and one of the lead faculty coordinating the workshop. Bringing the two groups together was essential, as it allowed for the implementation of innovative interprofessional best practices that will positively impact the health of the Central Valley community.

“Our students had the opportunity to work with other students from similar professions, as well as work with licensed providers, physicians, and pharmacists on working through a case study about a patient and some ethical concerns that were had,” said Gilbert. “The students not only had the opportunity to learn more about their profession, but also learn about professions they will be working with when they graduate from Fresno State. The opportunity to discuss the case with real physicians was exciting.”

Just on the floor above the workshop, healthcare professionals from Valley Children’s are tending to their young patients, making this the perfect setting for the workshop. In fact, Valley Children’s is a familiar place for many of students in attendance, who are currently interning or have completed their internships or externships at the hospital.


The workshop, and overall collaboration, ultimately allows students to optimize current use of pediatric interprofessional stimulation between Fresno State and Valley Children’s to maximize learning opportunities at the hospital, which is one of the largest of its kind in the U.S.

“The workshop was a very rich and inviting experience for us Fresno State students,” said Arseneau. “During our studies at Fresno state, many of us students don’t get the opportunity to branch out and work with students outside of our majors. However, this workshop gave us just that. It gave us the opportunity to intermingle between the different majors and professions within the health fields.”

A primary element of the workshop was the infusion of Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice – a learning process that prepares all health profession students to work together with the common goal of building a safer and better patient-centered and community/population oriented U.S. health care system.


The 90-minute workshop began with a description of a case study that touched on the first competency: values and ethics for interprofessional practice. In this case, it focused on Hmong culture and the idea of western medicine versus cultural beliefs of medical care.

First, the groups worked together within their shared disciplines to discuss the case from their individual perspectives based on their own knowledge and expertise. For the second half of the workshop, the groups were separated so that each table had different disciplines represented. From there, discussions took on a collaborative approach.


The validity of ethics is something third-year Doctor of Physical Therapy student, David Quenzer, came away with.

“As a physical therapist, we’re always in relationship with family, the M.D. and all the health professionals, so today was a great experience, in knowing whose realm it is as far as ethics in concerned,” said Quenzer.

The other elements that form the framework for the development of interprofessional education values and core competencies found their way into each discussion, as would naturally happen.

Nursing students with Beverly Hayden-Pugh, Valley Children’s chief nursing officer. Photo Credit: Valley Children’s

The second core competency, which uses the knowledge of one’s own role and the roles of other professionals to appropriately assess and address the healthcare needs of the patients and populations served, was a heavily discussed topic.

“I think students are coming from an aspect of new learning and new techniques, and they’re coming out with a perspective from their school – and the people with experience have another perspective,” said Patricia Lindsey, manager of Clinical Education at Valley Children’s. “When you bring that in with the perspective of every discipline and the lens of looking at it from every type of healthcare provider, the information you can obtain is really powerful.”

Kevin Russell, a junior majoring in Therapeutic Recreation, said the workshop was very informative for him going into the field, especially to learn about the third core competency – communication with patients, families, communities and other health professionals.


“This workshop helped us understand why communication is so key in our emphasis,” said Russell. “Anywhere you work, it’s very key to communicate with your team and it helps no matter what situations you’re dealing with. Whether in ethical situations or moral backgrounds – it’s best to communicate with your team and family that you’re working with.”

The last core competency, the application of relationship-building values and principles of team-based care to perform effectively in different team roles, was an important learning tool.

“It is critical that we open our minds to other viewpoints from nearby disciplines to deliver the highest quality of care to patients,” said Suzanne Mechekoff, a senior majoring in Speech-Language Pathology. “We must take into account a patient’s cultural background and beliefs, and work together as a team to create an ongoing partnership of respect and trust to enhance health outcomes and satisfaction.  We gain valuable insight and knowledge by sharing each other’s experiences and educational backgrounds, which builds a stronger team through collaboration.”

Although students were given the vital opportunity to learn from professionals, the chance to acquire information was reciprocated on both sides.


“Fresno State students bring a new aspect to the care that we provide as well,” said Dr. Jolie Limon, chief of Pediatrics and executive director of Medical Education at Valley Children’s. “They’re much more tech savvy and much more collaborative and are used to working in teams, so by bringing students and experienced professionals together, as well as across disciplines, we’re able to increase our bandwidth.”

Limon, along with Lindsey, have been among the many professionals that have been working on this workshop for the past year. Other players include Fresno State CHHS faculty, led by Gilbert, and faculty/staff representatives, including: Scott Sailor, chair in the Department of Kinesiology; Peggy Trueblood, chair in the Department of Physical Therapy; Monica Rivera, assistant professor of Physical Therapy; Vicki Krenz, chair in the Department of Public Health; Nancy Nisbett, professor of Therapeutic Recreation; Fran Pomaville, assistant professor of Speech-Language Pathology; Stephen Roberts, associate professor of Audiology; Andrea Carlin, representative for Social Work Education and Gerontology; Dana Lucka, director of development; Pilar De La Cruz-Reyes, director of the Central California Center for Excellence in Nursing at Fresno State; and Dean Jody Hironaka-Juteau and Associate Dean Mitzi Lowe.

The team at Valley Children’s also includes Tony Yamamoto, director of Social Services and Interpreter Services, and Beverly Hayden-Pugh, senior vice president of Clinical Operations and chief nursing officer.


These series of interactive workshops will continue into the spring semester, with additional workshops that will take a close look at each of the core competencies. Arseneau said these workshops will help her prepare for her future career, knowing she will be working with professionals within all fields of health care.

“Our ultimate goal is to always reach the best outcome for our patients or clients,” said Arseneau. “Whether you are a registered nurse, speech-language pathologist, physical therapist, or an occupational therapist, just to name a few, we all strive for this. There is no better way to accomplish this than through team work and dedication to our patients and clients. I believe this workshop prepared me for my future career as a speech-language pathologist, because it opened my eyes to things that some people don’t even learn until the later years of their careers. For this, I feel very blessed.”

For more information on the Valley Children’s Interprofessional Education Workshop, contact Dr. Marie Gilbert at