New IPE Anti-Racism Ad Hoc Administrative Advisory at U-M

A dedicated group accepts the charge to bring health science schools together to collaborate on the important issue of racism in health science education and care.

Willingness to take on big issues has been a hallmark in the movement around interprofessional education and collaborative health practice at the University of Michigan. The U-M Center for Interprofessional Education (IPE)  Executive Committee (EC) has empowered three different Ad Hoc Administrative Advisory (AHAA) groups to address complex administrative or system-wide challenges. Most recently, an AHAA group was formed to collaboratively address racism from the interprofessional perspective of health care educators and practitioners. 

“The data is clear that our patients encounter inequitable care, and some of that is due to policies and practices that have unequal effects on certain races,” explained Rajesh Mangrulkar of Michigan Medicine and the U-M Medical School, who co-chairs the anti-racism advisory along with Allon Goldberg of UM-Flint College of Health Sciences (both are associate deans).  

He added: “Education is the foundation for our health care practices, and our respective deans saw the opportunity for our IPE community to work together on this problem, rather than in the silos of our own schools. It’s thrilling to be part of a university that sees this as a way to move forward on this critical problem.”

Momentum around this effort grew in tandem with (and in some cases ahead of) other anti-racist initiatives at the U-M throughout the summer of 2020. In a series of meetings, leadership from the Center for IPE sat down with the dean and IPE Executive Committee members of each health science school across U-M’s campuses to discuss each unit’s IPE priorities and strategies for the upcoming year. In many of those meetings, the deans stated a strong desire for the Center for IPE to bring together the health science schools to develop ideas to collectively combat racism, with patient-care and population-health perspectives centering the effort. In commissioning the Anti-Racism AHAA, the health science deans provided further details as to the scope of work they envision. 

The health science deans acknowledge that it will take time for this collective work to make substantial inroads, given the deep history of this issue in health care and education. So the AHAA group’s charge for Phase 1 is outlined below, with key definitions provided to ground the effort. 

Definitions:

  • Anti-racism – “Active participation in combating racism in all forms,” which requires “consistently identifying and describing racism, and then dismantling it,” as defined by Ibrahim Kendi in his book How to Be an Anti-racist
  • IPE Experiences – Interprofessional education occurs when students from two or more professions learn about, from, and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes (WHO 2010). IPE experiences at the University of Michigan include courses, simulations, modules, one-time events, or experiential learning, and have been reviewed and endorsed by the IPE Curriculum Committee.

Charge:

For the Academic year of 2020-21, this AHAA is charged to bring together key stakeholders and consultants and review U-M efforts in the following areas:

  • Existing IPE experiences that address racism, social determinants of health, health disparities/inequities, and/or cultural humility.
  • Current anti-racism initiatives at each school that are being implemented system-wide. These may include leadership statements, communication forums, task forces, workgroups, among other examples.
  • Policies (grading, assessment, recruitment, etc.) and practices that may lead to, or mitigate, racial disparities in education. 

“This first phase of multi-school information-gathering and understanding of the status quo is critical in our efforts to take an intentionally anti-racist approach to health professions education and eventually health care practice” said Frank Ascione, founding director of the Michigan Center for Interprofessional Education. He added: “This effort is especially important as we move from a uni-professional focus to an interprofessional one. We are fortunate to have the broad support of the health sciences schools and are eager to lead this long overdue effort.”