Bulletin of Dental Education

Student and Faculty Development in Interprofessional Education Team-based Care: Important, but Not Easy

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By Laura Iverson

At an educational session “Faculty Development in Interprofessional Education (IPE) Team-based Care” during the 2013 ADEA Annual Session & Exhibition, presenters Allan J. Formicola, D.D.S., M.S., and Brenda Zierler, Ph.D., discussed the development and current implications of IPE and the challenges of IPE in their institutions.

Students and faculty require training to develop interprofessional competencies that move beyond profession-specific delivery. Successful IPE team-based care requires learning how to work interactively and effectively with providers in other health professions. The 2011 report “Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice“ states: “The goal of this interprofessional learning is to prepare all health professions students for deliberatively working together with the common goal of building a safer and better patient-centered and community/population oriented U.S. health care system.” But learning how to work in this environment is not easy.

A report spearheaded by Dr. Formicola and published in the Journal of Dental Education in September 2012 was described during this session. It highlights the movement to bring health disciplines together. Dr. Formicola’s research centered around determining student competencies, surveying U.S. and Canadian dental schools (focusing on associate deans for academic affairs), describing best practices, and developing recommendations for faculty and administration. The study reported collaborations with many types of schools and programs. The most frequent collaborations were with the medical, dental hygiene, and nursing schools. Joint activities provide dynamic learning and create connections and understanding across disciplines.

The challenges with IPE are numerous and include buy-in across faculty, organizational issues, and personnel issues, along with cultural challenges and questions regarding accreditation.
Dr. Zierler highlighted the issue that schools educate students in silos with little or no opportunity to learn and practice together. It is important that teachers reach a certain competency as role models for students, and build a capacity of IPE experts across the schools.

Many schools are developing programs to “train the trainer.” “Developing faculty is key to IPE. Investment needs to be made in how they teach,” says Dr. Zierler. Faculty helping to design or lead IPE experiences need to know what works and doesn’t. It is important to know which disciplines would provide a patient with the best treatment and outcome.

While IPE is a growing force, how to teach it has a long way to go. There are many barriers to development and implementation. “It is a not a done deal,” says Dr. Formicola. “Schools are wary about accreditation. Examples are out there on how to build a program. But it will take five years to get programming together, and another five years to mature.”


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