Bulletin of Dental Education

Introducing Interprofessional Education to Dentistry and Dentistry to Interprofessional Education: A Long and Winding Road, but Well Worth the Trip

(Conferences and Meetings, Curriculum, Involvement) Permanent link   All Posts

Can IPE include veterinary medicine? How about law? Is there room for community-based education and student initiatives? Judging from the four distinct campuses showcased at this session, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”

The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) began introducing interprofessional programs in 2001. Then in 2007, MUSC’s accreditors mandated the creation of a quality enhancement plan, spurring the school to develop a 10-year approach to integrating interprofessionalism into the fabric of its health professions programs. The Creating Collaborative Care (C3) initiative has produce a special day-long orientation, a required online course titled Transforming Health Care for the Future, an IPE fellowship, half a dozen extracurricular activities, and a number of IPE electives. Discussions are currently under way on establishing interdisciplinary training in a clinical setting. The “catch 22” is how to do this without a loss of clinical income.

At Western University of the Health Sciences (WUHS), IPE works because the mandate for teaching students to provide collaborative care comes from the top. WUHS brings together nine disciplines around a common focus: enhanced patient care. Its students receive teamwork training, participate in team simulations, and engage in cross-disciplinary, small-group, case-based learning. Among other innovations, the school is creating and testing a team OSCE for its students. To accomplish all this, the health professions schools have synchronized their calendars and the university has engaged faculty in planning, coordination, and training. Producing an adequate number of cases for this type of curriculum has been especially challenging. As a result, the university has begun conferring credit toward promotion and tenure for case creation.

At the University of Kentucky (UK) College of Dentistry, students are asked to extend their focus beyond the patient and into the community, which explains why the university's interprofessional education initiatives include not just the health professions but such fields as social work and law. For the moment, department participation in interprofessional activities is voluntary, but students have eagerly embraced a range of opportunities including an interprofessional leadership program, an honors colloquium, and the opportunity to compete in the Clarion Competition started by students at the University of Minnesota. With its Center for Interprofessional Healthcare Education, Research and Practice situated in the university’s student and academic affairs suite, the university is well positioned to move forward with its IPE initiatives.

The University of Minnesota has a physical plant that connects all its health professions programs, familiarly called "womb to tomb and puppy dogs, too" in acknowledgment of the university’s mortuary science and veterinary medicine programs. Up until recently, the university practiced what its Associate Vice President for Education, Dr. Barbara F. Brandt, called "interprofessional education on the edges." Today the university has a robust interprofessional initiative that includes many of the elements mentioned above. Led by the dental school’s own Dr. Judith A. Buchanan, it includes a foundation course in interprofessional collaboration and communication for all health professions students, and it will soon include an interprofessional clinical experience as well.

What do all these schools have in common? Committed leadership at the university level, faculty willing to try something new, and a central office or unified strategic plan to guide and coordinate activities. It appears that any academic health center with these three elements is in an excellent position to implement IPE.

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