Skip to main content

New co-directors of Vanderbilt Program in Interprofessional Learning named

May. 31, 2018, 8:30 AM

Melissa Hilmes, MD, left, and Shannon Cole, DNP, are co-directors of the Vanderbilt Program in Interprofessional Learning. (photo by Joe Howell)

by Krystyna Barnard

Shannon Cole, DNP, instructor of Nursing at Vanderbilt University School of Nursing, and Melissa Hilmes, MD, assistant professor of Radiology and Radiological Sciences at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, have been named co-directors of the Vanderbilt Program in Interprofessional Learning (VPIL) effective June 1.

Cole has been involved with VPIL since its launch in 2010 and was part of the original planning committee for the program. Hilmes has been a member of the VPIL faculty since 2015 as course director for medical students and an interprofessional coach.

VPIL is a two-year interprofessional program drawing students from VUSN, VUSM, Lipscomb University College of Pharmacy, University of Tennessee College of Social Work and Tennessee State University. Students in medicine, nursing, pharmacy and social work assemble in teams of four — one from each discipline — to collaborate on clinical- and classroom-based activities for one half-day each week throughout the duration of the program. The ultimate goal of the program is for students to learn from and with each other so that they can improve health care delivery and outcomes.

Cole said the skills students learn are ones they will rely on throughout their careers.

“Interprofessional education prepares students for the collaborative practice necessary to manage the complex needs of an aging society,” she said. “As VPIL’s clinic coordinator, I have been tasked with finding authentic, clinical, learning environments in a health care system where collaboration rarely exists. After nine years, I can tell you that this program has been transformative for students, preceptors and faculty.”

“My work with VPIL has highlighted the importance of working with a team in order to provide high quality patient care,” Hilmes said. “The students have a unique experience in VPIL, beginning with our immersion week in July, continuing with patient simulation, and concluding with our Capstone event in the spring of their second year. With faculty guidance, the students work on quality improvement and patient advocacy.”

Each year, approximately 40 students are invited to participate. Clinic sites include an obstetrics clinic concentrating on a drug-addicted population, the Comprehensive Care Center for HIV/AIDS patients, and primary care and subspeciality clinics.

For more information, please visit

Recent Stories from VUMC News and Communications Publications

Vanderbilt Medicine
VUMC Voice