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Students: Register by Jan. 22 for Competition

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 3:56pm

Compete in the Student Interdisciplinary Competition get medals to wear at graduation. Photo by Rhonda Whitmeyer.

All participants get a great experience, plus medals to wear at graduation. Dental students can get elective credit.

Helping Alzheimer’s patients will be the focus of this year’s Geriatric Interdisciplinary Student Competition, an annual contest in which students from The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and other institutions team up to improve elder care. The deadline to register as a contestant is Jan. 22.

The competition is open to those in the final year of their graduate or undergraduate programs at UTHealth, including dental and dental hygiene students (dental students can get credit for an elective by participating). The teams will present their projects to a panel of judges on April 22 and will be evaluated on both content and evidence of interdisciplinary cooperation.

Teams compete for first-, second- and third-place prizes. All participants receive certificates and medallions to wear at graduation. 

Dental hygiene students interested in registering should contact Professor Donna Warren-Morris, RDH, MEd, of the Department of Periodontics and Dental Hygiene. Dental students should contact Associate Professor June Sadowsky, DDS, MPH, of the Department of General Practice and Dental Public Health.   

The contest, now in its sixth year, is sponsored by UTHealth’s Houston Geriatric Education Center and includes participation from other UTHealth schools, Texas Woman’s University, the University of Houston and the American College of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Each team includes one student from each of the disciplines involved – ranging from nursing and dentistry to social work and physical therapy. This cooperation is a key aspect of the contest and models the kind of interprofessional collaboration needed by elderly patients, Warren-Morris said.  “We don’t practice in a vacuum. The best patient care involves an interdisciplinary approach.”

Each year, the competition takes up a particular issue facing the elderly, and the students deal with real-life cases to diagnose problems and provide solutions. For example, past contests have focused on elder mistreatment, disaster preparedness, and care for homebound seniors.

In 2011, students even completed certification to be long-term care ombudsmen, who serve as advocates for nursing home residents who don’t have relatives or guardians to oversee their care.