by A. Jion Kim
Reprinted from The Daily
Early last month, nearly 600 students in the UW’s six health sciences schools — dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health, and social work — formed teams and discussed the fictitious case of patient “Gregory,” a 31-year-old male seen in the UW Dental Urgent Care Clinic for tooth pain. Each team generated ideas for the best methods of treatment, as well as ways to increase patient compliance and address possible barriers to Gregory’s health care.
The activity, “Providing Care Across Settings,” is the second in the seven-session series of the new Foundations of Interprofessional Practice (FIP)- — a year-long pilot curriculum emphasizing solving real health challenges in collaborative teams. FIP was established through the new Interprofessional Education (IPE) Initiative: Vision for a Collaborative Future, a team-based approach to teaching and delivering health care, which was launched last year.
While the IPE Initiative is new, interprofessional education has been a part of the UW for decades. Dr. Brenda Zierler, the Inaugural UW Health Sciences IPE Faculty Scholar and professor of biobehavioral nursing and health systems, said interprofessional education in the health-related fields has been ongoing since 1997. It was formally funded in 2000 from a University Initiatives Fund grant from the provost, with the establishment of the Center for Health Science Interprofessional Education under founding director Dr. Pamela Mitchell.
“The new initiative is based on a vision of the current health science deans, new accreditation standards and health care reform,” Zierler said. She is the principal investigator on the grants from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration and Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, which were instrumental in funding the early IPE activities and faculty development for IPE.
The deans of the pharmacy, public health, and nursing schools are relatively new, and Dr. Joel Berg was selected as the dean of the School of Dentistry in 2012. Despite the turnover in positions, all six health sciences deans quickly united in throwing their support behind the initiative.
“The fact that we have six deans working together because they believe in this concept shows great leadership,” Zierler said. “We couldn’t do this without them. They’re modeling the behavior we’re trying to teach.”
Zierler said a key goal of the initiative is to address the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s (IHI) Triple Aim. The IHI is an independent, not-for-profit organization that advocates health care improvement worldwide through the “triple aim”: improving the patient experience of care, improving the health of populations, and reducing the cost of health care.
Another purpose of the IPE Initiative is to keep up with the changes in the health care field. As a member of the IPE envisioning committee the past year, Zierler examined trends in health care both nationally and internationally and worked with fellow committee members to create a vision for the initiative.
“[The IPE Initiative] is a reflection of the way the delivery of health care is changing, in going from a much more siloed, compartmentalized mode of health care to one which is really based on the provision of team participation, essentially,” School of Pharmacy Dean Dr. Thomas Baillie said. “The interprofessional education initiative is a way … to make students more familiar with the concerns and activities of colleagues in other health sciences schools to promote more of a team approach.”
The health sciences students will be obtaining part of their interprofessional training through the seven sessions of the FIP curriculum. An interdisciplinary team of health sciences faculty designed each session to focus on at least one of four core competencies: values and ethics for interprofessional practice, roles and responsibilities, interprofessional communication, and teams and teamwork.
“As health practices become increasingly interdisciplinary, the IPE curriculum is giving students a framework and the skills to actually use in practice,” said assistant professor of social work Megan Moore, who was involved in the IPE curriculum planning. “The IPE goal is really to teach students from different professions how to work together to achieve excellent patient outcomes and deliver high quality care.”
The seven sessions are spread out over the course of the academic year.
The IPE Initiative will extend beyond the FIP curriculum. The bigger goal, Baillie said, is to gradually introduce interprofessional courses to students in all six health sciences schools over a period of time.
“All health care professionals are involved in working with other health care professionals,” said Dr. Paul Ramsey, the dean of the School of Medicine. “Even, for example, a doctor or family physician in a very small town … will still be interacting with nurses and physician assistants and pharmacists and dentists … so regardless of the nature of the practice — whether it is in private practice or an academic setting of a teaching hospital like Harborview — all health professionals work in teams now.”
Reach Special Sections Editor A. Jion Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @AJionKim