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The World Health Organization (WHO) defines interprofessional education (IPE) as a process that “occurs when students from two or more professions learn about, from, and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes.”1
To be effective and caring health care providers, nurses, pharmacists and others must be able to work in a team-based, patient-centered environment upon graduation.
At Wilkes University, our nursing and pharmacy programs are dedicated to enhancing IPE. Our curricula include IPE experiences in both the didactic and experiential portions of training. IPE begins with first year pharmacy (P1) and sophomore nursing students participating in an “Early Learner” event. Through small group discussions and a large group debrief, interprofessional and ethical issues are highlighted. Included in this event are first year medical students from The Commonwealth Medical College (TCMC) in Scranton. In subsequent years, P2 pharmacy students engage with other health care professionals by participating in introductory pharmacy practice experiences (IPPE) in physician offices and a local visiting nurses association. During the P3/junior nursing years, our students engage with each other during simulated home health visits and in a high fidelity simulation involving a patient with an emergent medical issue.
A major element of IPE at Wilkes is our participation in the Northeast/Central Pennsylvania Interprofessional Education Coalition (NECPA/IPEC). The NECPA IPEC consists of a group of faculty members from 11 different colleges and universities in the region whose goal is to promote IPE to all healthcare students in our region. Wilkes University has provided leadership to the NECPA IPEC since its inception. The centerpiece of the coalition’s activities is an annual IPE collaborative care summit involving learners from all member colleges/universities across the region. The summit consists of small interprofessional group discussions surrounding a patient case with a specific focus on interprofessional communication, roles and responsibilities and teamwork. Our P3 and senior nursing students attend the summit each year. In 2013 over 700 students from 17 health professions participated in the summit!
The NECPA IPEC is also dedicated to faculty development and scholarship. For more information or to get involved in the NECPA IPEC, go to www.necpaipec.com.
1 Framework for action on interprofessional education & collaborative practice. 2010. World Health Organization. Available at http://www.who.int/hrh/resources/framework_action/en/. Accessed 9-30-2013