Second Annual U-M Interprofessional Town Hall

Connecting Students to Advance Health


“Community… Insight… Perseverance… Integration… Hope.”

Words like these were called out “popcorn style” as takeaways from a gathering of about 80 U-M health science students at the second annual interprofessional student town hall. It was held October 20, 2016, on the eighth-floor interdisciplinary commons of Munger Graduate Residences.

The takeaways resulted from group discussions led by two student facilitators from Trotter Multicultural Center—exercises that challenged students to break through stereotypes of their various professions and envision culture change. The ultimate goal is for students across the health professional programs to learn how to better work together in collaborative practice that can improve patient outcomes and population health.

“I heard the word ‘team’ a lot,” said facilitator Matoaka Kipp (also a social work master’s student). Kipp and co-facilitator Leah Hill wandered from table to table during the group discussions. “They are really getting to the nitty-gritty,” Kipp noted.

The first exercise was a “speed meeting” warm-up, in which students looked for someone from a different field to talk with. “If you’re a nursing student who wants to know more about public health, look for a purple nametag,” the facilitators said. Other fields represented included dentistry, kinesiology, medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy (at U-M Flint), and social work.

The next exercise encouraged distillations of each field’s unique approach and contribution into just a few words. Discussions then examined synergies and differences, with brainstorming on getting past barriers to collaboration, in both interprofessional education (IPE) and practice.

Optimal interprofessional experiences, one group of students concluded, would involve “knowing each piece of the chessboard, to accurately utilize all the players in caring for our patients.”

Other groups recommended that U-M offer IPE in “briefer formats (all weekend vs. all semester)” and at both macro and clinical levels.

A dozen faculty members attended this year’s town hall (some of whom had led discussion groups the last year). Several faculty took the opportunity to pitch ideas to students, such as how to take interprofessionalism into global health settings. Others sought suggestions on how to further build momentum on campus, for U-M to become a national leader in IPE.

Representatives from the three interprofessional student organizations addressed the participants at the start of the evening and set up outreach tables during the dinner and socializing.

Closing remarks by Frank Ascione, director of the Michigan Center for Interprofessional Education (which coordinated the town hall) challenged students to make progress on collaboration.

“You have the skills and attitudes to engage as effective team members,” he said. “Now we need you to become advocates for creating a curriculum that allows you to enhance your opportunities.”

The Michigan Center for Interprofessional Education is funded by the offices of the provost and the health science deans.

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