Why the Interprofessional Leadership Fellows Program Welcomes Teams

Q&A with Marjorie McCullagh of U-M School of Nursing recounts how a faculty team successfully used the Interprofessional Leadership Fellows program.

Four faculty members from U-M’s federally funded Center for Occupational and Health and Safety Engineering (COHSE) comprised the first established team to apply to the Interprofessional Leadership Fellows program, and they had a specific goal in mind: to revise and enliven an occupational health and safety course for U-M graduate students (from occupational epidemiology, industrial hygiene, industrial and occupational engineering, and occupational health nursing), and assess effectiveness in enhancing student skills in interprofessional collaborative practice.

“This IPL cohort 3 team’s success led us to encourage more teams to apply together for cohort 5 of our program,” said Vani Patterson, assistant director of the Michigan Center for IPE.

Center for IPE:   Why did your team decide to apply for the Interprofessional Leadership Fellows?
Marjorie McCullagh: The COHSE faculty is composed of members from public health, engineering, and nursing. This well-established team has been delivering multidisciplinary education for decades. In fact, interdisciplinary education is one of the pillars of our program. We have offered a multidisciplinary professional seminar course in occupational health for many years. In fact, the faculty in this course had been experimenting with ideas about making the course more interprofessional for the previous two years or so. We had trialed a team-based interprofessional learning activity, with some success. However, we wanted to go further. When we saw the call for the U-M Interprofessional Leadership Fellows, it seemed a good fit for what we were trying to do.

Center for IPE:  Did the fellowship help your group meet your goals?
Marjorie McCullagh: The fellowship was helpful to us in several important ways. We already had several components of a program in place when we started. For example, we knew we wanted to revise an existing interdisciplinary course that was required of students in our programs and taught by an interprofessional team. However, we wanted to change our focus from learning side-by-side to learning from each other. First, the fellowship gave us the structure we needed to conceptualize, plan, implement, and evaluate our project. Second, the program gave us access to experts in interprofessional practice, people who could advise us in developing our ideas. And finally, the program gave us some important knowledge in the science of interprofessional education.

Center for IPE:  Why do you think other teams and individual faculty could benefit from the IPL Fellows program?
Marjorie McCullagh: The program helped us to see that interprofessional education can contribute to improvement in patient outcomes, benefiting patients, health care delivery systems, and the public’s health. The possibilities are tremendous, and seeing what other people are doing is absolutely inspiring. I would encourage others to learn more, and be open to how interprofessional education in health care is possible in your own practice.

Marjorie McCullagh

Professor Marjorie McCullagh of the School of Nursing (Ann Arbor) directs Occupational Health Nursing and works with COHSE to prepare future occupational health professionals for roles in promoting the health of the nation’s workforce. Her NIH-funded research focuses on prevention of noise-related health problems among farm operators and farm youth.

The rest of the COHSE Interprofessional Leadership Fellows team:

  • Stuart Batterman, COHSE director and professor of environmental health sciences at U-M School of Public Health and civil & environmental engineering at the College of Engineering.
  • Rick Neitzel, associate professor of environmental health sciences at U-M School of Public Health.
  • Marie O’Neill, professor of epidemiology and environmental health sciences at U-M School of Public Health.

Video from COHSE featuring some of the IPL Fellows: