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Vision screenings latest interprofessional collaboration for Creighton health sciences

Creighton University’s collaborative care initiatives in the health sciences, nestled in the Center for Interprofessional Education and Research (CIPER), are as much about an interdisciplinary approach to health care as they are about forecasting the future of care itself.

Sept. 22 at Kellom Elementary School, students, faculty and deans from the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, the College of Nursing and the School of Medicine, as well as other elements of CIPER, joined with the Omaha nonprofit Building Healthy Futures to provide vision screening for all Kellom’s students in a new initiative meant to branch out to all schools in the Omaha Public Schools and encourage better vision health among its students. The effort, in addition to its interprofessional bent, is meant to take a new tack: physically bringing health care to where it’s needed most.

“This is the way of the future, to meet people where they are and to provide the services they need most and might be unlikely to otherwise pursue,” said Margaret Begley, BSN, RN, a faculty member, preceptor and school health coordinator in the College of Nursing who is heading up Creighton’s partnership in the vision screening with Building Healthy Futures. “It’s a win-win for the district in being able to address student health needs and it’s a win for Creighton because we are able to work within that collaborative care model and give our students exposure to service and collaboration and also gives us some research capabilities. We’ll be able to see how these initial screenings are received and what the follow-up rates are.”

Toward that end, the Building Healthy Futures program aims at not only undertaking the screenings, but then following up with students in the spring with something they’re calling the Mobile Vision Van. The van, staffed with an optometrist, will be able to consult students whose vision might not have checked out at 20/20, and who might be candidates for corrective lenses.

The screenings saw Creighton students, mostly from nursing and occupational therapy, trained to use specialized equipment to do a check on the elementary students’ pupils and depth perception. The training model was a first for both Creighton and Building Healthy Future, which works with dozens of community partners to improve health and health care outcomes for young students around Omaha.

“It’s about efficiently and effectively getting health care right when and where it matters most,” said Debbie Tomek, MD, medical advisor for Building Healthy Futures. “Using the training model for the first time, we’re hoping that we can build on this and gain more volunteers to help with screenings. It’s exciting to us that Creighton has utilized its students to take this on. When it comes to interdisciplinary approaches, this is how training gets done and how the next wave of medicine is practiced.”

At the Sept. 22 screenings at Kellom, Catherine Todero, PhD, J. Chris Bradberry, PharmD, and Robert “Bo” Dunlay, MD, deans from the College of Nursing, School of Pharmacy and Health Professions and School of Medicine, respectively, stopped by to witness the process.

“It is wonderful to see our students in action in an interprofessional activity,” said Bradberry, who observed and took a hand in a few vision screenings at the event. “Vision screening is so important for these young school kids and when vision issues can be identified early, the child’s abilities in school are enhanced tremendously.”

After the initial foray, Begley said she’s hopeful the vision screening can expand and become a regular Creighton volunteer enterprise and another continuing example of CIPER's work.

“It’s so good for our students to get out and practice health care as it’s happening in our communities,” she said.

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