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First Interprofessional Education Course Begins Jan. 5

Dentistry Involved in New Collaborative Approach to Patient Care

Ann Arbor, MI — October 21, 2014 — The University of Michigan School of Dentistry is one of five health profession schools at U-M that will be involved in a new collaborative approach to education and patient care.

Beginning with the Winter Semester on January 5, the schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and social work will launch a new course, “Team-Based Clinical Decision Making.”  The course “is the first of its kind at the university and may be one of the largest semester-long interprofessional education offerings in the country,” says course director Dr. Gundy Sweet, clinical professor of pharmacy.

Over 300 students will work in interprofessional teams, rotating through all five schools and solving difficult patient cases. “We are designing very complex cases that will require all team members to consider the perspectives of each profession to develop a successful care plan,” explains Dr. Bruce Mueller, associate dean of Academic Affairs at the College of Pharmacy. Faculty will also co-teach the two-credit course in interprofessional pairs.

“For many years, we have operated in professional silos within health care, but that has changed dramatically in the last few years,” says Dr. Rajesh Mangrulkar, associate dean of Medical Student Education.  “At UMHS, we have many outstanding models of highly effective interprofessional clinical care teams.  But we haven’t been nearly as intentional in educating the learners how to work with other health professional students and function in those teams.”

3 Years of Effort

Dr. Carol Anne Murdoch-Kinch, associate dean for Academic Affairs at the School of Dentistry, says, “This course is the product of almost three years of committed effort among the health sciences schools to transform the learning environment for our students.”  She adds, “this is one of many learning activities being developed that will ensure that our graduates have the interprofessional competencies required to succeed and lead in a changing health care environment.”

With representatives appointed by the deans of the seven health science schools, the Steering Committee for Interprofessional Education (SCIPE) has been charged with advancing these types of initiatives at the university.

The course is still in the pilot phase.  The Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) and Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) programs have integrated the course into their curricular requirements, while the Master of Social Work (MSW) program will initially require the course for Integrated Health Scholars and Detroit Clinical Scholars.  The course is also open as an elective for students in the Medical Doctor (MD) and graduate nursing programs.  The goal for future years is to grow the course to include more students and perhaps more schools.  “In the future, I would love to see every NP student involved,” states Dr. Michelle Pardee, clinical assistant professor at the School of Nursing.  “This is a great opportunity for students to interact across disciplines and develop the interprofessional skills necessary to be successful in health care.”

Preparing Health Care Providers to Collaborate

The ultimate goal of the course, explains Dr. Bradley Zebrack, associate professor of Social Work, is to positively influence patient care.  “Preparing the next generation of health care providers to work collaboratively across professional boundaries will contribute to enhanced patient outcomes and improvements in the quality of health care.”

“I believe the future of healthcare is dependent on interprofessional collaboration,” says Eric Tye, a third-year dental student, who will be among the first cohort to take this course.  “This requires commitment from all professions to step outside of their individual silos, break down the barriers of misunderstanding, and learn how to work together to provide optimum patient care.” 

The U-M School of Dentistry will create a new clinic where patients with special needs will receive dental and health care services in the same facility from providers from multiple disciplines, thanks to a $2 million gift from the Delta Dental Foundation.  This special clinic will promote interprofessional care education and improve health care access and services for patients with developmental disabilities, cognitive impairments, complex medical problems, significant medical limitations, veterans with post traumatic stress disorder, and the vulnerable elderly.