Interprofessional community health pilot program begins at Cranbrook Tower

Students and faculty from medicine, pharmacy and nursing educated senior residents of Cranbrook Tower on topics such as healthy blood pressure, nutrition and exercise at a recent community health event organized by the Interprofessional Community Health Collaborative.

On a Thursday morning in March, a group of students and faculty stepped away from the classroom to visit Cranbrook Tower, an apartment complex for low-income adults in Ann Arbor. They arrived early to set up tables with educational materials and to prepare presentations for the 35 residents who would be arriving soon to learn more about how to prevent and manage high blood pressure. As the residents arrived, many of whom spoke Mandarin and used interpreters to communicate, all eyes were on the day’s educators from the Interprofessional Community Health Collaborative.

The Interprofessional Community Health Collaborative was developed by members of the Michigan Center for Interprofessional Education’s experiential innovation workgroup, in collaboration with the Ginsberg Center. This team is dedicated to expanding interprofessional education in community health settings, and has been exploring strategies that would be mutually beneficial to both students and the local community. They decided to pilot a new educational community health program at Cranbrook Tower based on an existing relationship through the College of Pharmacy, who has provided health screenings to residents for the past five years.

“The University of Michigan is a public institution whose mission includes serving the people of Michigan. Interprofessional community health events provide an opportunity for students to engage with the local community while also preparing students to provide high quality, equitable care to patients when they enter practice,” shared Sarah Vordenberg, Pharm.D., M.P.H., clinical associate professor of pharmacy and member of the Interprofessional Community Health Collaborative. “These events allow students to meet people in the communities where they live which helps students to understand how social determinants of health act as facilitators and barriers to good health.”

Residents learned about preventing and managing high blood pressure during a community health event.

This first event included students from medicine, pharmacy and nursing, who worked together to educate residents about nutrition, exercise and healthy blood pressure. The events are intentionally designed to be flexible so that participants from other disciplines such as dentistry or public health might be included in the future. The team plans to expand to additional sites as well.

“The experiential innovation workgroup is excited to see the implementation of the interprofessional activity at Cranbrook Tower and looks toward expanding this activity to other organizations,” stated Michelle Pardee, D.N.P, FNP-BC, clinical associate professor of nursing and member of the Interprofessional Community Health Collaborative.