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 Collaborative Skills-Introduction. 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.

Current IPE Experiences and Opportunities

Introduction to IPE:
The Introduction to IPE Module introduces students to the current health care landscape through the perspectives of patients and families, as well as faculty. It then provides an overview of the history of interprofessional education and how it relates to the quadruple aim of health care: improved patient experience, improved population health, increased workforce satisfaction and reduced cost of health care. The content is appropriate for students across the health science schools and is ideal for learners early in their programs. This module is a program requirement for a majority of the U-M health sciences.

Interprofessional Collaborative Skills-Introduction (Formerly Interprofessional Clinical Experience):
This course places medical students into clinical experience early in their career to introduce them to the patient, health care team and health care system. Students actively engage with various health professionals who work at that clinical site. Dentistry students are participating as a pilot to include other health science students.

Team-Based Clinical Decision Making:
A large-scale interprofessional course designed for students in dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and social work. This course boosts understanding of how each discipline contributes to health care teams, the importance of effective communication, and the role of collaboration in clinical decision making. Student teams rotate through modules taught at all five schools by interdisciplinary pairs of faculty.

Patient Safety/Quality Improvement:
Students from the health professions schools are introduced to the structured scientific problem solving method using A3 thinking in order to connect the scientific method and the diagnosis and treatment of patients. Students will work in interdisciplinary small groups using this method to analyze a problem.

Student-Run Free Clinic:
This is a free clinic located in Pinckney, Michigan that provides primary care services to around 500 uninsured and underinsured adults in Livingston County each year. The clinic began as a medical student co-curricular and has expanded to include nursing, dentistry, pharmacy and public health students.

LIFE 101 (Pilot in 2021):
LIFE connects teams of interprofessional students (who have completed foundational prerequisites and applied for admission) with patients who have a chronic illness. Students participating in this experience will be immersed in IPE competencies as they learn about the social determinants of health that impact the patient/family’s interface with the health care system and community. LIFE is designed to meet the advancing needs of the U-M health science schools.

Breaking Bad News:
A fourth-year medical student Standardized Patient Interaction modified to include social work students. The Emergency Medicine learning module was updated to include the roles of both specialties, and together the students practice breaking bad news in a simulated clinical scenario. (September, October, and March)

IPE in the Clinical Years

During their clinical years, medical students have multiple opportunities to interact directly with practicing professionals from other specialties, representing a number of healthcare disciplines.

  • Internal Medicine Clerkship: During the Internal Medicine clerkship in the Clinical Trunk, all medical students have a care coordinator/manager as part of the inpatient rounding team. After rounds, care coordinators manage care for the patients including discharge planning. Students are required to observe the process of care coordination with a coordinator on their team for an afternoon. Students send assessments to their assigned care coordinator for feedback.
  • Psychiatry Clerkship: During the Psychiatry clerkship, medical students observe how patient care is delivered in interprofessional teams. Each discipline lends their expertise in treatment of the whole patient. Nurses, social workers, activity therapists (OT/PT), and pharmacists work side-by-side with the psychiatrists.
  • Emergency Medicine Clerkship: Students are expected to identify the different critical roles played by allied health personnel in the Emergency Department and how these individuals interact to provide cohesive patient care by working half of a shift with nurses and technicians directly. At the Michigan Medicine site, students have the option of splitting the shift with social work.

IPE in the Branch Years

  • Geriatric Medicine – Team-Based Approach: This session provides training in geriatrics within the context of interprofessional, team-based care to medicine and pharmacy students. Learners work through a case that will require a team-based approach in determining the plan, differentials, and disposition. In addition to increasing knowledge of geriatric medicine, students will learn to strengthen skills within interprofessional team-based care, including greater awareness of roles and responsibilities, communication skills and shared decision making.
  • Residency Preparation Courses: Students participate in a simulated paging curriculum in Residency Preparation courses and are “on call” to receive pages about mock patients consisting of both urgent inpatient scenarios and routine outpatient scenarios. Trained registered nurses administer the cases and act as the nurse taking care of the mock patients.

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.

There is increasing attention to students learning alongside those they will be working with in caring for patients. Students early in their training begin to appreciate the impact of team-based care and the role they will have as part of the team.

Thomas W. Bishop, Psy.D., M.A., Assistant Professor and Assistant Residency Director in the Department of Family Medicine and Director of Interprofessional Education