, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 443-449
Date: 31 May 2013

The Development and Implementation of an Interdisciplinary On-Line Academic Course Using a Life Course Perspective

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The University of Wisconsin–Madison Pediatric Pulmonary Center (UW PPC) provides interdisciplinary leadership training for graduate students and postgraduate professionals. The training includes a three-credit on-line course entitled Interdisciplinary Care of Children with Special Health Care Needs. This paper describes the course, the content and organization of which was guided by the life course perspective (LCP). The UW PPC team used the LCP to guide course organization, content development, and evaluation approaches. UW PPC trainees took responsibility for content areas, performed literature reviews and reviews of resources, and suggested student activities. Course content was focused on the child with special health care needs (CSHCN) embedded in contextual environments of family, community, culture, and larger social and public policy arenas. The content included three case-study videos that followed a child with cystic fibrosis from birth to age 18. Key concepts of the LCP were woven in throughout the videos and other course materials. Emphasis was on representing development of the individual during critical/sensitive periods and on social determinants of health. At semester’s end, qualitative and quantitative student evaluation results were very positive for all areas of the course. The final course paper, organized similarly to course modules, synthesized all aspects of the course. A successful paper included LCP concepts woven throughout to show integration of course content. The LCP provided a useful framework for course organization and content, and served as a lens through which students came to understand the care needs of CSHCN and their families. A course such as this can serve the important goal of educating future maternal child health professionals in using the LCP to understand how multiple determinants of health interact across the life span to produce health outcomes in this population.