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Highlighting IPE Faculty at UW

Rick Arnold, MD - UW Department of Medicine

This feature is part of a new series highlighting the work of faculty teaching IPE at UW.

Dr. Rick Arnold is a Clinical Professor at the University of Washington in the Department of Medicine. He is also the College Head at Snake River College for the UW School of Medicine. Dr. Arnold received his MD from Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago and completed his residency training in Internal medicine at Rush Presbyterian St. Lukes Medical Center.

Rick Arnold, MD  

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How and why did you get involved with IPE?

Dr. Arnold: “I have the privilege of being one of the College Faculty in the School of Medicine.  This gives me the opportunity to teach clinical skills during students’ second year and mentor a group of medical students for their entire four years.  About 10 years ago, a group of the College Faculty who were involved in working with student service projects got together to look for ways to better organize and support student service learning and advocacy efforts.  This initial effort culminated in the formation of the Service Learning Advisory Committee at the School of Medicine, which I chaired for its first three years of existence.  We have a wide and growing list of service learning opportunities available for students, and my involvement in growing this list led to the realization that the most robust service learning efforts were interprofessional in nature.  In these interprofessional projects, students not only get an opportunity to address community identified needs but they also learn about working on interdisciplinary teams, which mirrors the teams they will be on as future health professionals.  I wasn’t alone in this realization and for the past three years, faculty students and staff from all of the health science schools have been meeting monthly to share ideas and work collaboratively to enhance interprofessional service learning at the Health Sciences schools.  This collaboration has led to numerous new interprofessional projects and to the development of the Common Book series for the Health Sciences."

What do you believe are the benefits of IPE?

Dr. Arnold: “I believe that those of us engaged in the health service professions share a common set of values, which include a demand for social justice.  We all recognize that unequal opportunity is a huge contributor to the health problems of our society, but we have different professional tool kits, with which to address the inequities.  It makes intuitive sense to me that by working together and using a broader array of tools, we will be better able to push towards a more just and caring society.  Policy makers seem to have come to this same conclusion and are asking us to work seamlessly in teams.  It follows that as educators we must provide opportunities for students to learn and work in interprofessional teams during their training.  IPE is the logical vehicle to accomplish this."

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

Dr. Arnold: "I just love watching the light bulbs go off when I’m precepting at a student free clinic or other service learning project, and a need arises that cannot be adequately addressed by the disciplines that are in the room.  “If only we had a social worker (nurse, pharmacist, whatever)”.  If the person with the required expertise is next door and can be summoned to assist, it can create a magical moment.  Then interprofessional jealousies and ignorance can be replaced by appreciation and better understanding of the roles of our colleagues.  Those are the moments I live for."