Back To Top

Interprofessional Clinical Advancement CenterNew D’Youville Program Uses Actors to Teach Coordination Among Health Care Disciplines

Buffalo, New York – April 1, 2013 – A new and unique program at D’Youville College is using professional actors to portray patients needing medical care to help teach healthcare students collaboration among a variety of fields including pharmacy, physician assistant, physical and occupational therapy, nursing, dietetics and chiropractic.

The program got underway February 2 and will run to April 27.

D’Youville is one of the very few colleges or universities in the nation teaching all seven disciplines under one roof, making it ideal for interprofessional collaboration.

A $60,200 grant from the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo helped in the creation of a simulation center, named the Interprofessional Clinical Advancement Center, at 2900 Main Street in Buffalo that houses simulation rooms. The grant funded two of the rooms, one a simulated hospital room and another representing an outpatient clinic. The center will eventually house seven simulation rooms.

“The rooms are equipped with media to enable simulation of real-life patient scenarios and recording equipment to allow students to review their interaction with other healthcare students,” said Dr. Lynn Rivers, chair of D’Youville’s physical therapy department who is a co-investigator of the project and is coordinating the renovations of the center for the program.

D’Youville healthcare faculty create the patient case scenarios that require coordinated care. “This will create authentic scenarios that will teach students the importance of interprofessional collaboration with other healthcare professionals.

It will help solve problems and provide coordinated care from the ER, ICU, the hospital, outpatient clinic and home settings,” said Dr. Karen Panzarella, assistant professor of physical therapy at D’Youville who is heading the curriculum development of the interprofessional simulation program.

There are 25 faculty members from all seven healthcare disciplines involved with the simulation project.

Each third year student will have a four-hour session in the program to help better prepare them with what is happening in the ‘real’ world of coordinated healthcare in today’s hospitals and all clinical environments.

Most health professional training in the U.S. is focused typically on the training of students solely within their discipline and therefore the ability to work on coordinated healthcare is never learned prior to clinical practice. This can lead to poorly coordinated patient care and adverse outcomes, according to Panzarella.

Three local professional actors , Gail Golden, Christopher Standart, and Loraine O’Donnell, who occasionally perform at The Kavinoky Theatre at D’Youville and a number of non-actors have been trained by faculty to act as patients with specific “health-care problems” for the students to analyze and prepare a coordinated plan of care.

Joe Demerly, managing director of The Kavinoky, selected the actors he thought would best fit the “role.” “The actors will be briefed by the appropriate faculty as to how best to portray symptoms of certain illnesses. It will be basically an improvisational situation for the actors as there is no hard script,” Demerly said. “The actors don’t know what the students will say so they will improvise their responses. The scenarios will be different each time and the actors will help steer the students to the right diagnosis,” he said. (Ed. Note: This was the theme of an episode of the Seinfeld show.)

“The vision of this new program is to assure that healthcare students can function on a holistic-integrated team to assure high quality patient-centered care. In this program our students from different health disciplines are required to work together in developing a plan of care and to recognize the unique and complementary contributions of the health-care team serving the patient,” according to the program leaders.

“Our intent is to create as realistic and cutting- edge an environment as possible, with the flexibility to change as much as is necessary to maintain current standards of care and to anticipate future trends in health-care delivery and responses to an aging population’s healthcare needs,” Rivers said.

Pharmacy student Daniel Kubit, ’14 completed the four-hour program and had this to say: “I thought the exercise was extremely valuable, it not only gave us a life like scenario to practice the respective professional skills we have learned thus far in class but more importantly it gave us a comprehensive understanding of a patients journey through the healthcare system.” Kubit feels this is the way to improve the system. “If patient care is to improve in the future, it will be a result of each profession working more closely with one another…”

Dr. Gary Stoehr, dean of the School of Pharmacy at D’Youville, believes the program presents the opportunity for students to appreciate each other’s knowledge in specific disciplines. “They receive supportive feedback on how they did from other students, faculty and the actors,” he said. “The scenario is an authentic as we can make it and because each episode is recorded the students do not want to make any mistakes. It’s a great introduction to the real world of healthcare.”

The ability to provide patient-centered coordinated care is the required mandate emerging from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and is becoming part of educational accreditation standards, according to the college.

Simulations will be held at the Clinic, 2900 Main St. on Monday & Tuesday from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 pm and Saturdays from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.


Dr. Karen Panzarella at 829-7835 or

Dr. Lynn Rivers at 829-7708 or

Dan Kubit, PharmD Candidate, (585) 943-2643