Interprofessional education (IPE) on the menu

By Rodney Tanaka, Senior Communications Writer

POMONA, Calif. - 10/24/2007 -- Due to popular demand, a second series of faculty lunches to talk about developing an interprofessional curriculum will take place in November.

The first series of lunches, held in late September, provided the opportunity for 70 faculty members to ask questions and give their input to Vice Provost Sheree Aston, Chair of the Interprofessional Education (IPE) Committee and College of Graduate Nursing Assistant Dean Diana Lithgow, Chair of the faculty working group of the IPE committee, and other IPE committee members.

The purpose of these lunches was to engage and orient faculty to the IPE concept and to solicit their ideas for design to make it successful, Lithgow said. Among the faculty suggestions were the importance of inclusion and sharing of information, she said.

“Communication of project status needs to be done along the way as the project evolves and not just at the end,” Lithgow said.

Suggestions for cases and scenarios that could be used for instruction were great, such as a disaster situation, Lithgow said. Also discussed was the IPE draft committee mission statement: Craft, implement and assess a distinctive new learning model of interprofessional health education leading to improvement of health.

Students will not be the only ones developing better interaction skills. One idea suggested at the lunch meetings was for a directory of faculty organized by the subjects they teach. Once this directory is developed, a pharmacy professor teaching ethics, for instance, could easily find colleagues from other colleges teaching similar courses in order to collaborate and share ideas.

“We want to encourage interprofessional teaching,” Aston said. “Let’s make it easy for them.”

The university is in the early stages of developing a unique interprofessional curriculum where students from all disciplines will learn together in the classroom, in small group venues, and in clinical experiences with patients. The goal is for WesternU graduates to demonstrate an understanding of other health professionals and to provide and promote a team approach to patient care and health care management, leading to improved patient care.

The Interprofessional Education (IPE) committee is evaluating the steps needed to implement such a curriculum among the existing colleges and those colleges in development. All faculty members, students and other stakeholders are welcome to add their opinions and suggestions to the discussion.

Faculty knows the curriculum and will be the ones to successfully implement interprofessional learning, Lithgow said.

“We want to do it right and make a difference and faculty are needed at each step of the way,” she said.

Work stream groups are meeting to develop specific aspects of the Interprofessional Education initiative: Environmental Scan, Didactic, Clinical, Research, Facilities, Communication, Faculty, Program Evaluation, External Funding, Implementation and Recruitment/Support Services. If you’re interested in joining a work stream group or you want more information about the Interprofessional Education initiative, e-mail Dr. Sheree Aston at saston@westernu.edu.

Additional faculty lunches are scheduled for Nov. 13-15. To RSVP, e-mail Maria Espinosa at mespinosa@westernu.edu no later than Nov. 1.



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