ASEWU Graduate Affairs Kelly Baker is working to install a multidisciplinary clinic for the Riverpoint campus that will serve students by giving them real life experiences with patients.
The process of kick-starting the clinic is at a standstill in the idea stage. Baker said this is just a student project with some support from faculty and community members. This project is in collaboration with faculty, staff and other students.
“The most important thing to happen right now is to help key administrators of EWU to understand how valuable a clinic could be to the university and the community, especially in regard to how a multidisciplinary clinic is compatible with the mission of the university,” said Baker in an email. “It certainly fits the slogan, ‘Start something big.’”
Due to the need and interest of students from health professionals and occupational therapy programs, the decision to go forward with a multidisciplinary clinic at the Riverpoint campus was made.
“Part of real-world learning is understanding how to make a vision or great idea become a reality,” said Baker. “As part of our emerging practice class, there is a student group that is assigned to look at how a multidisciplinary clinic might work on the Riverpoint campus. I am a part of that group.”
The emerging practice class is a required course within the occupational therapy program. Students take it in their final quarter before going out and into the field to work. It is designed to introduce them to things that are emerging in the field and to skills that they will need to be successful within the field. Finding funding and grants is one of those skills.
In addition, a clinic like this will allow faculty and staff members to see how students perform in a real working environment and how they interact with patients of the community. According to occupational therapist and assistant professor Donna Mann, this will help students when the clinic gets calls for references.
“We do [have] a sense of responsibility to our students because this is something that they’ve been asking for along with the community for years. It would be nice to be able to provide that,” Mann said.
“As faculty and a university, part of our mission and desire is to provide service to the community,” said Mann. “The community definitely needs health services, whether it’s occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy. It’s very easy to call providers up and learn that there’s a wait list to get these sorts of services.”
Funding for the clinic has not been established. The ideas of opening the clinic to all community members, utilizing their insurance sources and having a flat rate fee are items still on the table of discussion, according to Baker.
Additional configurations include how to start a business as part of the university and what the space will be used for.
“One of the biggest needs is space, but it seems there should be some options on the Riverpoint campus. It is a matter of every program having access to what it needs and to making sure the mission of the university is kept at the heart of any program development,” Baker said.
If approved, the clinic will hope to improve the Riverpoint campus by increasing student learning opportunities, allow Eastern to serve the community and create research opportunities for students and faculty.
The clinic would also allow for real client interactions for students, hands-on learning experiences and more.
“This is important for EWU and Riverpoint students as it allows us to recognize the similarities and differences of each profession that we will work with in interdisciplinary teams once we graduate,” Baker said.
Because Eastern operates a collaborative dental hygiene clinic and speech and hearing clinic at Riverpoint, the working of the multidisciplinary clinic will also be in collaboration with WSU Spokane.
Baker’s vision of the clinic involves the rehabilitation sciences, such as occupational physical therapy, exercise science and health care administration—all of which are essential in addressing the cost of health care and need for prevention, according to Baker.
“A clinic on the Riverpoint campus could provide a needed service to the community and real world learning experiences for students,” said Baker. “It is also something the greater Spokane professional community has expressed an interest in.”
Faculty and community professionals would serve as mentors to students at the clinic from a variety of professional programs participating in service delivery.
“A multidisciplinary clinic is important in a number of different ways. First, it would give us an opportunity to provide real time, real-world instructions to our students, which is something that they have told us they highly value. Second, it would enable faculty to immigrate real-world learning into the curriculum,” Mann said.
According to Baker, the clinic will also represent all four goals of the five-year strategic planning of the university. The four goals consist of student success, community engagement, visibility and institution of innovation.