Justin Fair and Anne Kondo (Madia Department of Chemistry) coauthored two book chapters
that were included in Integrating
Professional Skills into Undergraduate Chemistry Curricula.
In a technical field such as chemistry, it was thought that
employers would emphasize technical skills as they screened potential hires.
However, surveyed employers indicated they preferred candidates with strong
interprofessional skills, consistent with surveys of employers in other fields.
Our 2014 and 2017 surveys showed that employers wish that chemistry programs
incorporated explicit teaching and application of interprofessional skills so
that programs may incorporate related training, instead of teaching yet another
chemical principle or technique. Chemical employers also choose candidates who
have had team experiences specifically related to chemistry topics.
Interpersonal skills the chemical industry prefers are identified and discussed
as well as the differences between teamwork and groupwork in academic settings.
These results will be of interest to those who develop and implement chemistry
curricula for BS chemistry students.
Universities are well positioned to explicitly teach
interprofessional skills and to provide opportunities to practice their
applications, resulting in well-rounded and balanced STEM professionals.
Academic projects that include group work involve members that individually
have all the necessary information to complete the project. In such cases,
group members do not need to communicate with one another. However, when the
academic project includes a boundary of disciplinary knowledge, communication
and the sharing of information between team members becomes necessary. Thus,
faculty should set up projects that incorporate a boundary of disciplinary
knowledge to facilitate true teamwork, not just groupwork. Projects should
occur inside and outside coursework in the major.
The process outlined herein
provides a template to include interprofessional training as an academic minor.
The presented multiyear structure incorporates key interprofessional skills
while minimizing credit load and without replacing in-major technical content.
The result provides enhanced team experiences in a student’s chosen field of study and provides methods of
assessing students’ interprofessional skill growth. Both self- and
team-assessment of teamwork skills are critical to a student’s development and
self-awareness of these skills.