Last Saturday, almost 200 students from 33 teams across the country gathered across the river from Camden in Philadelphia to prepare for their semester as Student Hotspotters. Interdisciplinary teaming and the power of storytelling were the main themes of the day, with students and their faculty advisors getting the chance to work intensively with each other for the first time to map out their team dynamics. The students, representing disciplines including medicine, nursing, social work, pharmacy, business, and even law, are the 2016-2017 cohort of the Interprofessional Student Hotspotting Learning Collaborative, a joint program of the Camden Coalition, Primary Care Progress, and the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC).

Coalition founder and Executive Director Dr. Jeffrey Brenner welcomed the students along with Primary Care Progress founder and President Dr. Andrew Morris-Singer. Dr. Brenner said that he hoped the students would fall in love with complex care the way he has. “The Camden Coalition has been an outgrowth of my curiosity and love for the sickest, most complicated patients,” he said. “My real reason for being here is that I want to retire someday. This is a leadership program. You are our retirement plan.”

Dr. Morris-Singer agreed. “Today’s students are ready to reinvent health care delivery.”

Hotspotting, as the students learned, is not an individual sport. The success of the Student Hotspotters will depend on how well they can function as a truly interdisciplinary team that works together to provide patient-centered care. To prepare them to begin to think as a unit, the teams bonded through storytelling, a 5 Dynamics analysis that mapped their individual strengths together to make the group dynamic and team roles clearer, and exercises in setting group norms and goals.

Part of group goal-setting was placing the team in the future and thinking as a group about what they will have achieved six months from now. “Taking an optimistic stance is a choice,” said Dr. Morris-Singer. “Our beliefs about our capabilities have a profound impact on our success.”

The teams will have lots of support as they work to apply our healthcare hotspotting in their own communities. Along with regular case conferencing and support from an expert team of preceptors, this year the Student Hotspotters will have access to our online Mosaic Curriculum. The curriculum is uniquely designed to allow students to explore and learn at their own pace through about one hundred “tiles:” short videos, webinars, and narrated presentations that can be sorted by both theme and hotspotting milestone.

The Student Advisory Council, a group of former Student Hotspotters who now work to disseminate the lessons of hotspotting throughout the health care field, told this year’s cohort that they should measure their success by the transformative effect that the program has on them as future providers, and by the way they can affect change in the institutions they work in.

Winnifred Quinn, Director of Advocacy and Consumer Affairs at the Center to Champion Nursing in America, the day’s keynote speaker, had a similar message for the students. “I encourage you to tap into the humanity of everyone’s experiences that you meet, and in turn allow their experiences to tap into your own,” she told the assembled students. “Listen and learn, follow your heart, and find humanity in everyone, including yourself.”

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