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Medical, Physician Assistant students collaborate with other health profession students on IPE Day

On April 5, more than 600 students from the School of Medicine, School of Dental Medicine, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing and Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences gathered in rooms across Case Western Reserve University to complete their second Interprofessional Education (IPE) workshop this year, known as IPE Day.

Medical, Physician Assistant students collaborate with other health profession students on IPE Day
Medical, Physician Assistant students collaborate with other health profession students on IPE Day

IPE Day is part of the students’ enrollment in an online course where they collaborate with other health profession students on learning modules as well as participate in a fall semester workshop.

The overall purpose is to create meaningful experiences where students from different health care professions can explore the roles of other professionals and understand how their own role fits into the team. The course is the foundation before moving entirely to the Interprofessional Model in the new Health Education Campus when it opens in 2019.

“Case Western Reserve University has always graduated highly competent individuals, however it is clear that now to truly be patient-centered and improve safety and care, a high degree of collaboration between disciplines across time and place is necessary, said Ellen Luebbers, MD, Director of Interprofessional Education. “As an educational institution we ask ourselves, “how do we prepare our graduates to be collaborative-ready practitioners?” This is what IPE has been addressing – what attitudes, knowledge and skills our graduating students need in order to have collective competence.”

Collaborative problem solving to better our community

On IPE Day, each group of students brainstormed health problems that affect Northeast Ohio and developed a plan of action to solve one of the issues by incorporating each professions’ unique skills and patient interactions in order to promote change.

Some of the health issues which students devised plans for include:

  • Lead poisoning
  • Infant mortality
  • Opioid epidemic
  • Health literacy
  • Obesity
  • Mental health
  • Immunizations

For instance, in helping to lower obesity rates, students discussed how all health practitioners play a role in influencing the patient to make lifestyle changes. A dentist, for example, can talk to a patient about how making healthier food and beverage choices can improve their oral health, while physicians, nurses and physician assistants can talk to patient about how lifestyle changes can improve their health, particularly by lowering their risk of many diseases. Social workers help by finding resources for their clients, such as access to healthy food.

“It’s really easy to be focused on what you do in your own discipline,” said first year medical student Angelica Ehioba. “IPE helps you to see what happens in reality and how you need to work together in real-time with other health care providers.”

The task of improving a pertinent health issue in society together allows the students to acknowledge the contributions of others, to practice communicating effectively, as well as to receive feedback from other members of the team, all of which improve patient care when translated to a clinical site.


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