Interdisciplinary Collaboration

At the beginning of last year I was asked to design and teach a new course with one of the nursing instructors that would teach students how to write professionally and value inter-professional communication. As an academic librarian for nursing and health sciences, I do a lot of teaching as part of my day to day role, but I had never taught an eight week course. And, not since before library school had I taught anything that wasn’t directly related to libraries or where I was not in the role of librarian.

My co-instructor and I spent months matching readings, assignments, and assessments to learning objectives and the course that emerged was a cross-listed nursing and health sciences elective titled Basics of APA Writing for Healthcare. In the course, students learn to evaluate research, ethically use sources in their writing, and practice formal, persuasive writing, all while exploring a current healthcare communication issue and evidence-based practice. Many of these are topics I cover with students ordinarily as their librarian, but instead of teaching them in bits and pieces throughout various classes, I get to teach them all in sequence in a condensed time frame and reinforce the material as I go.

Teaching with a nurse educator is the perfect balance; we are learning from each other’s perspectives on active learning, information literacy, and library research. Talking to each other for hours each week teaches each of us about the other’s expertise and helps us each value the other’s role in healthcare education. And students benefit from having two instructors with varied proficiencies. We can teach both theory and practice, catch different mistakes, counter each other’s biases, and improve our communication. Through our teaching partnership we give students an ongoing example of how interdisciplinary collaboration can improve practice, a lesson they will hopefully take with them into their healthcare professions.

I am still learning as I go, but this has been an invaluable experience so far. My goal for this year is to seek out other interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities for myself and the library.

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