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Summit explores future of health education system

Nov. 21, 2013, 9:02 AM

The Vanderbilt Interprofessional Education Summit brought together health educators to develop plans for better educating and training health professionals to practice collaboratively. (photo by John Russell)

More than 50 health education professionals and students gathered for a daylong summit at Vanderbilt University Medical Center to explore interprofessional collaboration efforts to meet the growing needs of today’s health care delivery system.

The Vanderbilt IPE (Interprofessional Education) Summit brought together Vanderbilt’s health professions educators and health systems leaders to develop plans for better educating and training health professionals to practice collaboratively and to focus on the critical issues for transforming health care — quality, cost and population health.

Since 2010 the Vanderbilt University Program in Interprofessional Learning, (VPIL) has created patient-focused health care teams consisting of students from various disciplines — medical, nursing, pharmacy and social work — to work together to think about the entire health care experience

Bonnie Miller, M.D., senior associate dean for Health Sciences Education at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, admits that despite the program’s success, it only impacts a few dozen students each year. There is a great need to expand the program’s reach, and the summit served as an opportunity for local leaders to provide input.

The challenge for today’s educators is preparing learners for a health care system that doesn’t quite exist, but is fast approaching, she said.

“We want to explore the gaps between the needs of the evolving health care system for a practice-ready collaborative workforce and the graduates of our current health professions education programs,” said Miller, also associate vice chancellor for Health Affairs.

“We all agree that we must have health care professionals working together in well-coordinated, highly functional teams. It is critical to the success of the transformation of the health care system,” she said.

“We have to prepare our learners to live in that world, which means we have to make them a part of the change process while giving them the necessary skills to be successful.”
Miller is working closely with Linda Norman, DSN, R.N., dean of Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, to determine other types of activities to further engage more learners in team-based care.

“The VPIL program has been exceptionally successful for the students engaged in the clinic teams. We are learning every day of the impact that this program is having on our students and faculty,” said Norman, also the Valere Potter Menefee Professor of Nursing.

Participants from VUMC, Belmont University, Lipscomb University and Tennessee State University agreed that there was a strong commitment to interprofessional teamwork and suggested ways to help prepare future health care professionals, including involving interprofessional teams in quality improvement efforts and helping faculty members become more comfortable in teaching learners from different professions than their own.

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