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Faculty Collaborate to Create Innovative Interprofessional Projects and Courses

In an effort to empower faculty to create and sustain interprofessional education projects and courses, the College of Health Sciences sponsored a two-day institute on June 9 and 10. Twenty-one faculty from Community and Environmental Health, Kinesiology, Nursing, Radiologic Sciences, Respiratory Care, Social Work and University Health Services participated in the institute.

Interprofessional education is a key initiative in the college’s 2012-2017 Strategic Plan. The World Health Organization defines interprofessional education as “students from one or more professions learning about, from and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes.” The College of Health Sciences defines interprofessional education as “the collaboration of two or more professions that involves interaction and knowledge to improve safety and quality of systems impacting the healthcare environment.” The college sees interprofessional education as a way to understand issues, address problems and create new solutions that extend beyond the scope of a single profession through education, service, scholarship, and policy.

Dean Tim Dunnagan welcomed the faculty and consultants, stating “we are rethinking how we educate our students.” The institute used the UNified through Interprofessional Teaching Experiences (UNITE) Program. Consultants Christine Arenson, MD, professor at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Penn. and co-director for the Jefferson Center for Interprofessional Education, and Frances Gilman, DHSc, RT, R, CT, MR, CV, associate professor at Thomas Jefferson University, led 20 faculty through activities to assist them in drafting curriculum for each faculty team’s project or course. On the second day, the faculty presented their ideas to one another before working with instructional design consultants from Boise State’s Academic Technologies.

Arenson stated that interprofessional education addresses the “need for a synergistic interrelationship for patients’ well-being. Interprofessional education looks to build this in the next generation of providers. Ideally, interprofessional education will translate into interprofessional practice.”

“Nurses and social workers interact daily and have similar goals; yet minimal opportunity is given for these disciplines to understand how similar some of their objectives are, which could result in improved patient care, as well as reduction of duplicity of services and costs,” said Bonnie Kenaley, faculty in the School of Social Work. “As a faculty member new to the College of Health Sciences, the workshop was an opportunity to form new relationships and understand emphasis of teaching by other faculty. I was inspired by the enthusiasm demonstrated by the whole group which promotes me to be more creative,”

Karla West, director of Counseling Services in University Health Services agrees: “It is great to be part of a team that values the contributions of various professional disciplines, recognizing that a diverse set of knowledge and skills are essential for effective practice.”

The faculty developed a wide array of projects and courses. Some developed one credit courses that would enhance patient care quality and safety, patient care coordination, or teach students within and outside the health disciplines about emergency preparedness. Others developed class projects on which students from two classes from different disciplines would collaborate. Topics for these projects include ethics, policy and scope of practice. Other faculty developed ways to enhance, emphasize and sustain existing interprofessional courses, such the skills lab and the Complementary and Alternative Therapies course.

Courses and projects will be implemented throughout the coming academic year.