Team-based, patient-focused care

School of Nursing and Health Sciences students learn a new approach to health care through participation in a national learning collaborative.

nursing students teamwork in nursing sim lab

When Laurie Colborn, Ed.D, MSN, R.N. was hired nearly two years ago to expand the role of the La Salle Neighborhood Nursing Center (LSNNC), she understood its history, dating to 1992, of connecting the local community with health care resources.

But with that outward-facing reputation, Colborn wanted to look inward—at how she and colleagues Mary Joan Niemiec, BSN, ’08, Jeanine Uribe, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., ’97 and Sara Shuman, Ph.D., MPH could collaborate with the School of Nursing and Health Sciences to reestablish the LSNNC as an important teaching tool.

One of the most vibrant manifestations is also the most unique: This year,
the LSNNC made La Salle the only undergraduate program on the East Coast participating in the Interprofessional Student Hotspotting Learning Collaborative.

Hotspotting is a recent innovation.

The national program sprung from the success of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, launched by physician Dr. Jeffrey Brenner in 2009. The Interprofessional Student Hotspotting Learning Collaborative uses data to target “super-utilizers” of the system, people with chronic conditions and interwoven social and economic impediments to care, to implement a holistic system that understands their needs beyond health care, leading to better outcomes and reducing costs system-wide.

Camden Coalition added a student hotspotting program in 2014 that expanded nationally in 2017, with Thomas Jefferson University as one of four regional hubs overseen by Camden’s National Center for Complex Health and Social Needs. Last fall, La Salle launched its pilot program, assembling a multidisciplinary team of undergrads to apply the hotspotting methodology with an LSNNC client.

The program offered the best of both worlds: Students could learn from interacting with the client and from each other while providing team-based, patient-focused care.

“When they leave here,” said Colborn, “they’re going to have a better understanding of social determinants of health, working within a health care system that is often fragmented.”

The principles of hotspotting and LSNNC’s mission are generally aligned. The goal is to empower and connect, giving clients the information they need in order to make informed decisions.

Hotspotting offers trauma-focused care, understanding not just health challenges but what stands in the way of accessing care (food, housing, employment, and more). It applies less-expensive preventative measures, trying to alleviate reactive interventions like frequent emergency room visits, which can often lead to worse health outcomes and higher costs.

The different disciplines of the team members— nutrition and dietetics major Virginia Powell, ’20, public health students Jessica Wrinn, ’20, and Belvine Foucha, ’20, and nursing major Morgan Lake, ’20,—allowed them to get a glimpse into how each approaches a patient’s complex medical issues. Lake is used to looking at the granular, one-on- one challenges a patient faces. But the public health lens has opened her eyes to systemic challenges like transportation.

Wrinn said the program has put a face to the data with which she has grown used to working.

“It’s not just about hearing statistics behind a certain situation or a certain income level, this is an actual person that’s sitting in front of me asking for help,” she said. “That’s really the biggest thing that was a little scary for me, but also an important lesson.”

“They are all extremely motivated,” Colborn said of the students. “They all wanted to do something a little bit different that would add to their toolbox and what they’re learning and what they’re gaining over the years of being at La Salle.”