The ADEA Team Study Group on Interprofessional Education examined the state of interprofessional education (IPE) in U.S. and Canadian dental schools. The group reviewed the pertinent IPE literature, examined IPE competencies for dental students, surveyed U.S. and Canadian dental schools to determine the current and planned status of IPE activities, and identified best practices. The group prepared case studies of the exemplary IPE programs of six dental schools, based on information provided by those schools; representatives from each school then reviewed and approved its case study. Six reviewers critiqued a draft of the study group’s report, and study group members and reviewers met together to prepare recommendations for the schools.
The report identified four domains of competence for student achievement in IPE and summarized responses to the survey. It also included the case descriptions of six schools’ IPE programs and the study group’s recommendations for dental schools. The report finds that there is general recognition of the goals of IPE across U.S. and Canadian dental schools, but a wide range of progress in IPE on the various campuses. The challenges to further development of IPE were also discussed.
At the conclusion of its work, the study group agreed on a set of recommendations for dental schools regarding IPE, as follows:
1. As schools consider IPE with students from the various health professions, it appears that attention is also needed to develop or strengthen intraprofessional education among dental students, dental hygiene students, and the rest of the oral health team.
2. During the planning process for IPE activities, it is critical to receive the support of the leadership of the health science center and all of the health care disciplines for such efforts to be successful. In academic medical centers, it is important to ensure strong buy-in from the medical school.
3. When schools are planning IPE learning programs, it is of paramount importance to keep in the forefront that the focus of IPE is to improve the quality of patient care through multidisciplinary teamwork. Students and faculty members from varying disciplines should interact around patient problems and the health care system.
4. Evaluation of IPE efforts should be built into the planning and implementation of coursework. Assessing outcomes in relation to IPE’s ultimate objective should be the ultimate goal of the evaluation process.
5. As schools think about how to emphasize teamwork, it is worthwhile for faculty members and academic administrators to gain the perspectives of employers of health providers. Most provider systems depend on teamwork among various levels of the health care team to ensure that patients have a high-quality outcome and a positive experience. Additionally, these individuals’ perspectives will expand current and define future employment and practice models.
6. The planning and implementation of successful IPE programs will require trained faculty. Dental schools will need to invest in both intra- and interprofessional faculty training to develop a cadre of faculty members prepared to develop IPE coursework.
The ADEA Team Study Group concluded that the importance of IPE in dental education is widely recognized by the schools and that there is concurrence regarding the competencies necessary for graduates to become practitioners who are able to participate more fully in a team approach to interprofessional care. However, the responses to the survey show that there are major challenges to incorporating IPE into dental school curricula. There is sufficient interest for dental schools to take on these challenges and plan and develop IPE. However, leadership within the schools and the health science centers, in addition to funding sources, will be needed to provide the necessary resources for IPE to take hold throughout the United States and Canada. The findings and recommendations of this study group can help academic dental institutions in the United States and Canada discover pathways to interdisciplinary education that will help the profession meet that goal.
The members of the ADEA Study Group are Allan J. Formicola, D.D.S., M.S., Sandra C. Andrieu, Ph.D., Judith A. Buchanan, Ph.D., D.M.D., Gail Schneider Childs, R.D.H., M.P.H., Micaela Gibbs, D.D.S., Marita R. Inglehart, Dr. phil. habil., Elsbeth Kalenderian, D.D.S., M.P.H., Marsha A. Pyle, D.D.S., M.Ed., Kim D’Abreu, M.P.H. and Lauren Evans.
The full report will be published in the September issue of the Journal of Dental Education.