Published September 11, 2019
When a runner collapsed from exertional heat illness just 100 feet from the finish line of the Buffalo Marathon in May, Tyler Farnell, a master’s student in athletic training at UB who was volunteering for the race, knew exactly what to do.
He attributes it to, of course, the education he’s received in the athletic training program, but also to the interprofessional education (IPE) curriculum that UB has implemented within the health professions programs.
“I believe that the IPE coursework and forums at UB played a significant role in my response to the runner that collapsed during the Buffalo Marathon,” Farnell says.
“The morning of the marathon, all of the providers discussed their roles and skill sets that they possessed to prepare for any emergency situations, and to ensure that our patients received the best care possible. When the runner collapsed, I understood my responsibilities clearly and seized the unique opportunity to serve my role in that moment.”
The response that day of Farnell and the other UB athletic training students and faculty who aided the runner is a prime real-world example of why UB’s health sciences schools have focused on interprofessional education over the past few years.
UB’s IPE curriculum paid dividends that day, and again last week when the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions (ASAHP) named UB a Program of Merit for the 2019 ASAHP Award for Institutional Excellence and Innovation in Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Health Care. Only three IPE programs across the country received a Program of Merit award.
UB and the other recipients — University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the University of Kansas Medical Center — will be acknowledged in October as part of the ASAHP annual conference in Charleston, S.C., where they will also have the opportunity to present at the research poster session.
“UB’s selection as the 2019 recipient of the Program of Merit Award from the Association of Schools of Allied Health Professions recognizes the excellence of the program we have developed in interprofessional education,” says Michael Cain, UB’s vice president for health sciences.
“We are extremely proud of Dr. Patricia Ohtake, who leads a team of exceptional and innovative educators from our schools of dental medicine, law, management, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences, public health and health professions, and social work. This team has worked together to create a comprehensive and exciting program in interprofessional education,” adds Cain, who is also dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB.
IPE is becoming more integrated into health professions education nationwide, and for good reason.
“These are skills that many health systems are seeking in new employees,” says Ohtake, assistant vice president for interprofessional education. “Patients have better outcomes when they are treated by a health care team.”
That was certainly the case at the Buffalo Marathon, where a team of emergency medical technicians, physicians, and athletic trainers and athletic training students all tended to the runner who collapsed.
“We’re preparing our health professions graduates to be productive team members. Traditionally, their education has been siloed. But the health care community has recognized that teamwork is important,” adds Ohtake, who is also an associate professor of rehabilitation science in the School of Public Health and Health Professions.
UB started a pilot program in interprofessional education in 2012 before implementing the curriculum for all health sciences students in fall 2016. The program now serves approximately 2,500 students in 12 health professions education programs across eight schools.
Halle Sauer, who is in the third year of the doctor of physical therapy and master of public health dual degree program at UB, agrees that UB’s IPE curriculum is preparing students like her to collaborate with other health care practitioners.
“IPE has helped me to better understand my scope of practice, the scope of practice of other professions, and how they all fit together in order to best serve patients,” Sauer says, adding that IPE has given her the confidence to discuss patient care with the entire care team and refer patients to the appropriate health care practitioner.
“The IPE curriculum has given me the opportunity to work with students from other disciplines to solve problems that we will likely face in the workplace,” Sauer says. “Premeditation on these common problems will help all involved to avoid the mistakes, missteps and oversights that lead to poor outcomes for patients.”
Students who complete the program are awarded the Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Microcredential Program. This program provides evidence that graduates have distinguished themselves as interprofessional collaborative health care practitioners. The program consists of three digital badges: Foundations, Communication and Teamwork, and Health Care Practice.
UB is one of the first universities to deliver its IPE program as a series of digital badges. The Office of Interprofessional Education awarded 387 digital badges in the first year of the microcredential program.
Reflecting on the ASAHP IPE Program of Merit Award, Ohtake says, “This prestigious national award signals that the UB IPE program is a leader in the development of future health professionals who will have the knowledge and skills to improve patient and population health through collaborative practice.”