TEACHING INNOVATION & ASSISTANCE TO UNIVERSITY STUDENTS USING A UNIQUE MULTIDISCIPLINARY COLLABORATIVE APPROACH
INTRODUCTION: The University of Detroit Mercy Departments of Engineering and Nursing have collaborated to provide unique assistive devices to physically challenged individuals living in the community. Teams of engineering and nursing students are paired with a physically challenged individual. The interdisciplinary student team works together to provide a safe, useful and health conscious device with the goal of improving quality of life. This paper will describe the multidisciplinary approach used to educate students while working towards meeting the needs of the physically disabled.
PURPOSE: Physical disabilities affect millions of people living throughout the United States. The US Federal Government passed the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act in 1988. Increasing the availability of assistive technology as well as the capacity to provide technology-related assistive devices were two objectives of the federal act. This presentation will describe how a Nursing Professor and an Engineering Professor took this need, created a unique learning experience and combined the unique skill sets of their students to improve the lives of people in need.
BACKGROUND / SIGNIFICANCE: Students learning styles are changing rapidly with the new millennium and global community. Educators must be prepared to teach to the new millennium in order to engage students and better meet the health care needs of the communities we serve. Interdisciplinary collaboration in higher education has the potential to create fertile grounds for learning beyond that of a single discipline approach. Additionally, effective collaboration can yield results which significantly impact human lives. This presentation/paper will describe an innovative interdisciplinary collaborative effort between two university colleges; nursing and engineering designed to care for the physical needs of disabled persons in the community.
DESCRIPTION / METHOD: One goal of our collaborative course is to ameliorate challenges faced by physically disabled individuals in our community from an interdisciplinary approach. Another goal is to help meet program and university curriculum objectives for our students such as improving communication, demonstrating caring behaviors and collaboration skills. A third objective of this multidisciplinary course is to enhance the education of our students in order to graduate professional, ethical, caring, intelligent and team focused individuals able to effectively improve the lives of others.
Teams of nursing students and engineering students work together on projects to build assistive devices that improve the lives of people in need. People with physical disabilities are identified from organizations such as the Detroit Veterans Administration Hospital, Michigan Rehabilitation Institute, Michigan Spinal Cord Injury Association, and personal contacts. This presentation/poster will describe the techniques, goals, objectives, and outcomes used in our multidisciplinary collaborative baccalaureate education. Examples of specific projects and clients will be given. In addition, the impact of the multidisciplinary collaborative experience for both the students and the clients will be described.