Skip to Content
Skip to Navigation

Interprofessional error disclosure training days set for March 6th, 9th

For Immediate Release
Date: March 1, 2012
By: Ashley Wiggin, Communications and Marketing Officer, 206-221-2456,

Students work in small groups- IPE DayStudents work in small groups- IPE DayTuesday, March 6 will mark the 2nd annual All Health Professions Error Disclosure Day  for the UW Health Sciences, bringing together students from Medicine, Pharmacy, Public Health and Nursing to put bedside practice to the test in the “real” world. Last year’s IPE day was a great success, drawing over 450 students and 76 faculty from across the health professions.

Funded by a grant from the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation in 2008, led by School of Nursing Professor Brenda Zierler and Co-PI Brian Ross from the School of Medicine, the project began as a way to have students learn about a key element of practice together. When the grant began, there was little occurring in the realm of health sciences interprofessional education at the UW, and Zierler and her team wanted to change that.  Sarah Shannon, School of Nursing Associate Professor, and Karen McDonough, School of Medicine Associate Professor, collaborated with others on the Macy team around the idea of using error disclosure as a shared learning challenge for health professionals.

“All Professions Error Disclosure Day has been a huge success,” said Zierler. “Staff and faculty work hard for many months scheduling this large event. The students really enjoy working together in teams and they are inspirational to observe.”

During last year’s session, students were introduced to working with their interprofessional colleagues around error disclosure.  They learned to approach error disclosure as a “team sport”.  

Students will begin the day by hearing a keynote address by Tom Gallagher, Associate Professor of Medicine in the School of Medicine, who is an international expert in error disclosure.   Gallagher’s interactive presentation allows students to engage in role play, where they will be placed in small group simulation sessions made up of 8-10 students from different health sciences programs (nursing, pharmacy, medicine etc.) and two faculty, to learn about an error that they have made and understand how to proceed as compassionate care providers. Following group discussion about how to share the information, the family member, a faculty member trained to play the part of the adult son or daughter of an elderly man who had an error made in his care, joins the group.  Students share what happened with the family member and respond to his or her emotions.   Faculty leaders Karen McDonough, Assistant Professor, School of Medicine and Sarah Shannon, Associate Professor, School of Nursing, lead the error disclosure training.

 “Learning to disclose errors as a team is a terrific way to learn how to work together effectively,” said Shannon.  “Errors raise the ante for the health care team bringing up reactions of guilt and blame, grief and anger among the team and between the teams and the patient and family.  Learning skills to approach error disclosure effectively can carry over to other team communication.  We make errors as a team; we need to disclosure errors as a team.  This truly is a team sport.” 

This year, the training experience is being expanded include nurse practitioner students and physician assistant trainees.  On March 9th, the team will pilot a similar training day for these practitioners.  

Interprofessional training isn’t just for students. Zierler and her team recently received a second grant from the Macy foundation to train faculty to lead this type of education at Universities around the country. The grant, called “Faculty Development Grant in Team-Based Care,” is a program that will bring faculty to UW March 4-8 to learn how to train students interprofessionally. Additionally, the IPE project has pioneered the IPE Teaching Scholars program, led by Lynne Robins from the Department of Biomedical Informatics and Medical Education, a program to train eight UW faculty scholars to lead IPE efforts at the UW.

“There is a national focus on training students to work together collaboratively to improve communication, but the training needs to start with faculty first,” said Zierler. “Faculty can model teamwork behaviors for students and they can create the opportunities to train health professional students together, focusing on communication, teamwork, collaborative care, values and ethics and role clarity.”

All of the training courses have taken place at the University of Washington Medical Center in the Institute for Simulation and Interprofessional Studies (ISIS) and Harborview Medical Center. While Zierler and Ross pioneered the project, Zierler notes that many other faculty, staff and students have made the work of interprofessional education possible.

Read about last year's training day here, and find out more about IPE training and programs here.

Photos by Clare Mclean


The University of Washington School of Nursing is consistently the nation’s No. 1-ranked nursing school, according to U.S. News & World Report. Ranked No. 3 in research funding from the National Institutes of Health, the UW School of Nursing is a national and international leader in improving the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities. The school addresses society’s most pressing challenges in health care through innovative teaching, award winning research and community service. For more information, visit