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Students going over information for a case study competition.

Student teams preparing for a case study competition at a recent Clarion retreat.

CLARION: Trumpeting change

From eNews, June 24, 2004

Alison Page says that as a staff nurse she used to wonder: "Who are these people and why are they running my hospital?" Now, as an administrator, the vice president of patient safety for Fairview Health Services is "one of them." The divide between those who work directly with patients and those who manage behind the scenes is a long-standing one, fueled to an extent by a limited understanding about each other's roles. To bridge that gap, University students--future doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and health care administrators--have created the Clinician Administrator Relationship Improvement Organization, or CLARION. The organization wants to build interprofessional knowledge among health care professionals and to lay the foundation for a better health care system. "One of our purposes is to break down those [walls] between and among administrators and health professionals," says Rachael Albertson, a health care administration student at the Carlson School of Management who serves on CLARION's council. "We're all here for a common purpose, to treat patients-whether you are working on the financials or performing treatments." The student-run group was conceived a couple of years ago by Jon Rathbun, then a student in health care administration. Rathbun, now UnitedHealthcare's director of operational performance measurement, says the idea came from debates with his closest friends, who are all clinicians, about what's at the root of health care problems. "We all agree that a core factor is our inability to trust one another's values and skills and to collaborate as professionals," he says. "We feel that the best opportunity to change that from the ground up is to help students learn these skills early in their professional training." Rathbun's vision was buoyed by an Institute of Medicine report, "Crossing the Quality Chasm," which recommends interprofessional education to reduce medical errors and improve patient safety. CLARION's activities include the fun "Friday Night in the ER" game and the serious annual case study competition among interprofessional student teams. With each activity, CLARION members learn cross-professional leadership skills that will serve them well and are not taught in a classroom, says Barbara Brandt, vice president for education in the Academic Health Center. "CLARION is really working to create what the health care system wants to see in the new people we hire," says Brandt. To learn more about the organization, see CLARION.

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