Students at Health Professions Day poster session

Interprofessional Education

Better Together

Interprofessional education leads to higher functioning health care teams.

Interprofessional education (IPE) breaks down the traditional silos of health care learning. Students from different professions work together to reach a common goal: improve patient health outcomes.

With this foundation of collaboration earlier in your training, you will be better prepared to function effectively in any team.

The Michigan curriculum integrates IPE in all four years. In the first year, these encounters take place within the Interprofessional Clinical Experience. You will learn from health care professionals in both inpatient and outpatient settings to better understand their roles. These include child life specialists, nurses, nurse practitioners, pharmacists, physician assistants, physical therapists, social workers and many others.

Interprofessional student experiences are continuously expanding. To allow for collaboration between students across all of the University's health profession schools, each school has designated protected time for required IPE courses, electives or other opportunities. You might learn alongside a PharmD student in the emergency room, or a nursing student while shadowing a floor nurse in the hospital. Creating more opportunities for Michigan med students to interact with other health profession students is one of our top goals.

Here are a few examples:

Clinical Decision-Making Course

Dentistry, pharmacy, social work and medical students meet weekly to discuss patient cases. You will work through clinical scenarios together, each student bringing their profession’s perspective to the table to develop a care plan in the patient’s best interest. This course is part of the Branches phase.

Breaking Bad News Module

Graduate students from the U-M School of Social Work and medical students team up in Standardized Patient Interactions to learn how to inform patients about a difficult diagnosis or family members about a loved one’s death. Each group brings its unique professional perspective and set of protocols. These exercises simulate real-world clinical scenarios to help prepare students to work better together with a patient-centric model of delivery.

Discharge Safety Module

During their Internal Medicine rotation, medical students learn about the role of physical therapists in patient discharge from the clinical setting. You will work with physical therapists to create patient discharge plans by evaluating patient readiness for discharge and to ensure safety at home.

Student-Run Free Clinic

Located in nearby Pinckney, Michigan, this free clinic provides primary care to uninsured and underinsured adults in the surrounding county. Medical students launched and operated the Student-Run Free Clinic for many years, but through a collaboration with the Michigan Center for Interprofessional Education the clinic now includes students from the schools of Dentistry, Pharmacy, Public Health and Nursing. This has allowed the clinic to expand services and programs for the more than 500 patients seen there each year.

Michigan Center for Interprofessional Education

The Michigan Center for Interprofessional Education focuses on creating new ways for health care students to learn together. Students give their input through IPE town halls, organizations, competitions and events.

Students see the value in working with other health care professionals. Their preconceived notions are challenged. They learn a lot spending time with them in the clinic and seeing what they do for patients. These are the people that they're going to be relying on.

Joseph House, M.D., Assistant Professor, Pediatric Emergency Medicine; Director, Medical Student Program; and Director, Interprofessional Education