“LIFE” Wins U-M Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize

The Center for IPE nominated “LIFE: Longitudinal Interprofessional Family-based Experience” for the prestigious U-M annual award.

The U-M interprofessional education offering LIFE, now in its second year, is one of five campus projects whose faculty have been awarded the prestigious Provost’s Teaching Innovation Prize (TIP). “We are so proud of the team that put together this fantastic innovation,” said Rajesh Mangrulkar, director of the U-M Center for Interprofessional Education. “It reflects the kind of collaboration we are striving for at the Center: multiple schools, multiple campuses, and a partnership with patients at Michigan Medicine. We have much to learn from our patients and community on the kind of teams they want to see.”

The faculty awardees are: Olivia Anderson (Public Health), Thomas Bishop (Medicine), Karen Farris (Pharmacy), Mark Fitzgerald (Dentistry), Debra Mattison (Social Work), Danielle Rulli (Dentistry), Laura Smith (College of Health Sciences-Flint), and Peggy Ursuy (Nursing). Additional faculty, staff, and patient advisors from the Michigan Medicine Office of Patient Experience contribute to LIFE’s success.

“COVID caused so much disruption in our lives, but it also created an opportunity for innovation, which this team took full advantage of,” said Vani Patterson, assistant director of the Center for IPE and a member of the LIFE team. “They created an educational opportunity that is meaningful and accessible to students, faculty, and patients, and it is something we hope to scale significantly in the coming years.”

The 2022 TIP award projects were chosen from 57 nominations from students, faculty, and staff. All fall within two focus areas: anti-racist and inclusive teaching, and remote and hybrid teaching developed in response to the pandemic. The TIP honorees will talk about lessons learned from their projects during a virtual panel discussion from 11 a.m.-noon May 5 as part of Enriching Scholarship.

“Interprofessional education programs provide aspiring health professionals with opportunities to understand each other’s roles and build positive teamwork practices,” the U-M TIP award announcement said. It continued: These exercises, however, can lack authenticity when they rely on one-time case studies or simulations, rather than repeated interactions with real patients and their families. To solve this problem, the LIFE team affiliated with U-M’s Center for Interprofessional Education developed a fully virtual, co-curricular certificate program, for which Michigan Medicine’s Office of Patient Experience connects students with real patients, referred to as patient advisers, and their families. Each team of health science students plans how to conduct two interviews with a patient adviser to explore how chronic illness affects daily life and interactions with health-care providers. After each interview, the students debrief what they learned and evaluate how they performed. The patient adviser also assesses the students’ teamwork. Students gained deep insights from authentic conversations with patient advisers about the time-consuming and emotional work related to chronic illness, including advocating for care, handling complicated insurance issues, managing medications, and completing prescribed daily therapies on top of their work and family roles.

One student’s patient adviser taught her that, “It is important to remember the patient’s burden in every plan of care, not that you would CHANGE it but just that you acknowledge their burden and how hard they are working to complete everything,’ which is not something that has been talked about before in my studies.”

“The LIFE Program has been a stellar example of creative interprofessional collaboration, and this recognition underscores the value of engaging patients and families as part of the team to improve care and experience,” said Kate Balzer, a senior project manager at the Michigan Medicine Office of Patient Experience and a member of the LIFE team. “We are grateful to partner with the Center to involve patients and families in this important work!”

The LIFE program’s materials are shareable with other faculty or institutions wishing to implement this collaborative IPE approach.

The Provost’s Teaching Innovative Prize is sponsored by the Office of the Provost, the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching and the University Library. The winners receive $5,000. This is the second TIP prize for a Center for IPE partnership/initiative; the first was in 2015 for the Team-Based Clinical Decision Making offering.