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Highlighting IPE Faculty at UW- Karen McDonough

Karen McDonough, MD - Department of Medicine
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Washington
Attending Physician, Consultative and Hospital Medicine, University of Washington Medical






Dr. Karen McDonough is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine and an Attending Physician for Consultative and Hospital Medicine at the University of Washington. Dr. McDonough attended medical school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and completed her residency in Internal Medicine at the University of Washington. Dr. McDonough’s area of expertise is in peri-operative medicine. In addition to her clinical role as an attending physician, Dr. McDonough specializes in medical student education. She chairs the second year Introduction to Clinical Medicine course, teaches clinical skills at the bedside weekly, and has developed and chaired the Capstone course for graduating medical students.  She also actively contributes to professional practice literature through frequent audio recordings in Practical Reviews in Internal Medicine and by authoring multiple chapters and co-editing the 5th edition of the “Manual of Evidence Based Admitting Orders and Therapeutics.”

How and why did you get involved with IPE?

Dr. McDonough: "I first got involved in IPE in 2009.  I’d been very involved in medical student education, and as a hospitalist at the University of Washington Medical Center, had valued relationships with colleagues from many professions.  I was asked to join a Macy Foundation funded grant team, led by Brenda Zierler and Brian Ross, working on simulation-based team communication training for medical, nursing and pharmacy students.  We piloted the simulations in the spring of 2010, during the medical students’ Capstone course right before graduation.  The most frequent comment we heard was ‘why are we doing this the week before graduation?’.  I realized that team communication and understanding of other professions’ skills and roles are key clinical skills for medical students.  As the chair of the 2nd year medical students’ Introduction to Clinical Medicine course, I’ve worked to include IPE so our students are better prepared to work with their teams when they start their clinical training in the 3rd year."

What do you believe are the benefits of IPE?

Dr. McDonough: "For the learners I work with most, 2nd year medical students, the benefit is a better understanding of other health professions when they hit the wards.  Even as an intern, I honestly had no idea what the pharmacists, dietitian or even the bedside nurse could do for our shared patients.  I didn’t ask them to do discharge medication education for patients, order and adjust TPN, reassess the patient I was concerned about.  I tried to do a lot of it myself – and didn’t do it as well as they could.  I think today’s students have a much more collaborative approach that leads to better care for their patients."

What has been the most memorable experience/highlight of teaching IPE so far?

Dr. McDonough: "When I chaired the Capstone course, I occasionally got emails from students a few months into internship, thanking me for a specific session that had turned out to be really helpful for them as interns.  The most memorable email came from a student who had done the simulation workshop, which started, “Dear Dr. McDonough – Last night, Capstone saved my patient’s life”. I never got all the details, but as an educator, it is hard to beat that."