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Ryan Wheelock on Winning an Interprofessional Skills Competition

Published on: April 1, 2024

Two people are shown to the left of a screen and four people to the right. On the screen, the words “2023 Maine AHEC Case Competition” are displayed.
Husson student Ryan Wheelock is shown at the far left. The others are his teammates from the AHEC Cup case competition.

During the Fall 2023 semester, Physical Therapy student Ryan Wheelock participated in a six-month long interprofessional skills competition through the Center for Excellence in Public Health, which is based at the University of New England. The year’s focus was on the lobstering community and related health and systemic issues impacting Maine’s fishing community. 

Wheelock, AHEC Cup scholar, was on the winning team for the annual case competition.

The competition is a federally-funded, state-run program that educates students in different medical disciplines on how to care for patients in a rural environment, he said. During the year-long interdisciplinary project, he worked with a social worker student, a physician's assistant student and a couple of doctor of osteopathy students. They were given an example patient who was anonymous but based on a real patient and asked to create a solution for their situation.

Wheelock’s team looked at the facts of the case: an elderly lobsterman in Maine whose family all work on a boat with limiting social economic factors. The current medical system doesn’t work for them because of the hours lobstermen work. Wheelock said his team evaluated the resources available and determined what might help, coming up with three initiatives including what they would look like, metrics for success and how to fund them.

The solutions? Establish a helpline for the community that would help connect rural fisherman and lobstermen with practitioners using a model similar to 211 Maine; create a healthcare fair to bring the resources to the fishermen such as attending the annual Maine Fishermen's Forum and distributing care packs containing blood pressure monitors, healthy eating information and more; and to look at funding and grants that could support the other two initiatives. 

“It was a wonderful way to learn the varying perspectives that different healthcare providers bring to things,” Wheelock said. “Each speciality brings a unique point of view and approach. It was really interesting to see the thought processes there.”

The work also highlighted for him challenges in rural healthcare he hadn’t considered before as well as the value of interprofessional training and work. 

Congratulations to Ryan Wheelock on this win and best wishes for future work!

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