Bruce Mueller Honored with 2020 U-M IPE Leadership Award

The College of Pharmacy interim dean has been an IPE champion for nearly a decade.

The Michigan Center for Interprofessional Education (IPE) is pleased to announce that the recipient of its second-ever Award for Distinguished Leadership in IPE is Bruce Mueller, interim dean and professor at University of Michigan College of Pharmacy. A longtime advocate and innovator in interprofessional education and practice, Mueller had until recently been among the only founding members of the Center for IPE still serving on its Executive Committee (he transitioned off only after being named interim pharmacy dean in June). 

“The Center for IPE is not about one thing or one person, but Bruce was here from the beginning and was a writer of the first grant,” said Frank Ascione, director of the Center for IPE while presenting the award at the start of the 2020 U-M IPE summer retreat. “I considered him key from the start, and he really has value here.” 

Carol Anne Murdoch-Kinch, who was the recipient of the first U-M Distinguished Leader in IPE award and now serves as dean of Indiana University School of Dentistry, had positive recollections to share when she heard of Mueller’s award: “Bruce was a consistent presence, leader, and change agent from the very beginning… One of the first major “wins” for IPE at Michigan was the award-winning ‘Team-Based Clinical Decision Making” course.  We initially struggled on how to design and implement this IPE offering to teach the fundamental principles of evidence-based medicine and critical thinking to learners from multiple health professions. We had to overcome the scheduling barriers, engage faculty participation, navigate course credits and tuition flow, and optimize pedagogy and space issues. Bruce came up with the innovative strategy that this could be team-taught in each school’s teaching spaces, using TBL (team-based learning pedagogy–he is an expert on this) to create interprofessional teams, and run as rotation through modules led by each of the health schools. The modules were built upon each school’s/profession’s primary strengths and culture, and use real-life case studies. Of course, Gundy Sweet and the other faculty took this and ran with it.  But this was a great example of Bruce’s innovative thinking and creativity, teaching expertise, and vision! All through this process, he modeled core values of openness, respect, professionalism, communication, and commitment to excellence. As an accomplished research scientist in pharmacy, he has also supported the development of interprofessional research and scholarship (education and practice). His brilliant vision, creativity, innovation and commitment were critical to the conception and implementation of IPE at Michigan.”

College of Pharmacy Assistant Dean for Curriculum Assessment and Clinical Professor Gundy Sweet, also a Center for IPE Executive Committee member, shared her praises with a lighthearted metaphor: “Working with Bruce on IPE initiatives over the past six years has been like an adventure at an amusement park. We have ridden roller coasters that brought amazing thrills and the jaw-dropping sensation as we traveled the unknown. We spent many a day with the bumper cars, with one obstacle after another while continuing to forge ahead to the finish line.  Other days we were stuck in the tilt-a-whirl, going around and around until our heads were spinning. Each adventure was filled with challenges and feelings of accomplishment. Through the hard work of many and the leadership of people like Bruce, we are getting closer every day to being able to relax and enjoy the landscape of our collective innovation, perseverance, and dedication to the IPE efforts on campus. I share my hearty congratulations, gratitude and well wishes to Dean Mueller on his well-earned recognition through this Distinguished Leadership Award.”

Surprised but gracious, Dean Mueller responded to the presentation of the award (via Zoom conference) with a resounding “Thank you!“ He added: “Teaching that first IPE course at the beginning in cafeterias and all over, we learned from each other. It was a fun thing to teach. I will continue to support interprofessional education and practice while keeping the Pharmacy dean’s chair warm.”

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