BUFFALO — Nearly 400 first-year health professions students at the University at Buffalo are learning a vital skill – collaboration – by participating in a game called Friday Night at the ER. 

UB’s Office of Interprofessional Education (IPE) scheduled nine sessions of the game, beginning Sept. 13 and continuing through Oct. 11. Media are invited to cover one of the three remaining sessions: 


Students in the programs of athletic training, audiology, counseling psychology, dietetics, nursing, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physical therapy and speech language pathology are participating.

Friday Night at the ER is a serious game that is used by Fortune 500 companies and universities to teach the principles of collaboration, innovation and data-driven decision making in a casual, fun environment.

This program provides an opportunity for new health professions students to engage in interprofessional education – learning about, from and with students in other health professions programs – during their first semester of study. 

Friday Night at the ER challenges teams of four players to manage a busy hospital during a simulated 24-hour period. During each simulated hour, patients arrive, are transferred throughout the hospital and exit the hospital when they finish their care. The four players at each board work collaboratively to ensure high quality health care is delivered while costs are contained. This simulation game provides a very enjoyable learning experience. 

“Playing the serious game Friday Night at the ER provides our first-year health professions students with an opportunity to begin developing their teamwork and collaboration skills – skills that are essential to ensure optimal health care outcomes – and the students are accomplishing this goal in a fun environment,” says Patricia J. Ohtake, PhD, UB’s assistant vice president for interprofessional education.

“Learning through playing Friday Night at the ER does not feel like learning,” adds Kelly Foltz-Ramos, PhD, director of simulation and assistant professor in the UB School of Nursing. “It is fantastic to watch nursing and other health professions students totally engaged around a game board, chatting and laughing while acquiring invaluable knowledge about systems thinking including collaboration, innovation and data driven decision making.”

Nicholas Fusco, PharmD, clinical associate professor and vice chair for education, practice and service in the UB School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, says Friday Night at the ER is important for pharmacy students because it brings them together with students from other health profession programs, for the first time, to learn and practice essential skills.

“The experience focuses on collaboration, innovation and data-driven decision-making, which are all core strategies to high-functioning interprofessional teams,” Fusco says.

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