Improving Health Practice, Interprofessionally


Interprofessional education spans the education-practice continuum.

Basic health care and crises from human trafficking to the opioid epidemic all benefit from teamwork across the health professions spectrum. Teamwork leads to a better patient experience, and health outcomes can improve when professionals communicate and work together well. These principles have been at the core of the accelerating interprofessional education movement at health science schools around the world.

At the University of Michigan, examples of growing interprofessional practice also abound. The annual Health Professions Education Day attracts hundreds of educators and researchers to share findings and best practices. And 50 current and past Interprofessional Leadership (IPL) Fellows have for four years been trained to go forth as champions in both interprofessional education (IPE) and interprofessional practice (IPP), collaborating in educational, clinical and community settings.

First- and second-cohort IPL fellows Leslie Smith and Amy Yorke, both faculty at the UM-Flint physical therapy program, were recently recruited to run an in-service training at the Livonia-based Rainbow Rehabilitation Center. They spoke to professionals in physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech language pathology, nursing, psychology, social work, and recreation therapy. According to Valerie Kolesar, a spokesperson for Rainbow Rehab, Smith and Yorke “shared specific ways we can improve our interprofessional communication and how doing so can improve the care we provide to our clients.”

When asked which messages in the program presented at Rainbow resonated most with attendees, Yorke (pictured at right) said: “Assumption of positive intent–the idea that we believe everyone participating is intelligent, well trained and well-intentioned, cares about doing their best, wants to improve… and is a valuable member of the interprofessional team.”

Michigan Medicine recognizes the value of the education-practice connection and is willing to provide funds to promote it. Its Office of Continuing Medical Education (CME) and Lifelong Learning awards annual grants of up to $25,000 to support innovations in professional learning; the projects now sought should be designed for “enhancing the professional development of physicians and the interprofessional teams in which they work.” A preferred focus area for these grant proposals is “encouraging interprofessional learning and team training.” Another prioritized focus area is “unique methods to increase collaborative learning.” Proposals for the next round of these Michigan Medicine CME innovation grants are due Dec. 22, 2018.

The Adolescent Health Initiative (AHI) leveraged Michigan Medicine’s interprofessional innovative learning funding for 2018, continuing their tradition of collaborative problem-solving. In October, AHI hosted a multidisciplinary continuing-education Connection session (pictured at top of page) on Identifying Trafficked and Commercially Sexually Exploited Youth in Health Care Settings. The event brought together 80 attendees representing social work and medical providers from primary care, specialty care, and school-based health to discuss best practices in identifying signs of trafficking and sexual exploitation among adolescent and young adult patients.

“The event was a great example of interprofessional learning and also provided opportunities for participants to think about building an interprofessional approach in their organization to deal with the problem,” said Michelle Pardee, a clinical assistant professor of nursing at U-M and panelist at the Connection session. “We received good feedback from participants regarding the varying perspectives to approach trafficking.”

See other CME innovation funded projects. Details on the 2019 interdisciplinary Conference on Adolescent Health.

“The Michigan Center for Interprofessional Education’s main goal is to prepare learners for the collaborative care settings of the future,” said Frank Ascione, director of the center. “Efforts such as these described here are important steps toward achieving that goal.”

Additional recent examples from the U-M community on leveraging IPE, IPP, and team science for better health outcomes include:

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