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Highlighting IPE Faculty and Staff at UW

Yanling Yu and Rex Johnson 

Patient Safety Advocates and Co-founders of Washington Advocates for Patient Safety

This feature is part of our series highlighting the work of faculty and staff teaching and supporting IPE at UW.

Yanling Yu is a Research Scientist at the Applied Physics Lab and Rex Johnson is a retired Research Engineer from the School of Oceanography, both at the University of Washington. Because of the tragic death of Yanling’s Father (Baba) due to a preventable medical error, they became patient safety advocates and co-founded Washington Advocates for Patient Safety to promote accountability, quality, safety, and responsibility in patient care. Their advocacy has evolved broadly, and now they are faculty on the UW TeamSTEPPS Program, members of Consumers Union Safe Patient Project, and working with the UW School of Nursing to promote and teach InterProfessional Education (IPE).

Yanling Yu and Rex Johnson


How and why did you get involved with IPE?

Yanling and Rex: "Baba’s tragic death taught us that there are many serious problems with the current medical system, as medical errors have become the 3rd leading cause of death in the US. To prevent what happened to Baba from happening to other patients and their families, we started our new journey to look for ways to make a difference. One of our biggest opportunities came when we were introduced to Dr. Brenda Zierler (UW Nursing) by Dr. Marla Salmon. Brenda has since opened a new door to show us how InterProfessional Education can improve patient safety.”

What do you believe are the benefits of IPE?

Yanling and Rex: “Based on our experience with Baba’s death due to preventable medical errors, we believe strongly that teamwork and communications are essential for quality of care and patient safety. Therefore, IPE training should be required in every medical school.”

What has been the most memorable experience/highlight of teaching IPE so far?

Yanling and Rex “After our first seminar with a large group of students, several students came over to talk to us afterwards. Their eyes were full of tears as they expressed their empathy for what happened to Baba and to us. At that moment, we saw the hope to make a difference, like seeing light at the end of the tunnel.”