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About Interprofessional Education

Interprofessional education is a collaborative approach to develop healthcare students as future interprofessional team members, a recommendation by the Institute of Medicine (IOM, 1972). The World Health Organization describes interprofessional education as: "When students from two or more professions learn about, from, and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes." (WHO, 2010)

At USI, students from the health professions and related disciplines are engaged in interactive learning with each other. Being able to work effectively as members of clinical teams during their education is a fundamental part of learning. Each student learns to value the unique perspective and knowledge the other professions bring to the care of the patient.

Healthcare teams that practice collaboratively are the key to safe, high quality, accessible, affordable, patient-centered care that is desired by everyone.

Why Interprofessional Education Now

Learning together interprofessionally leads students to practice collaboratively as they enter the workforce. Although effective interprofessional education may occur in different ways, it often involves the following elements:

    • Development of health professionals who work collaboratively to improve the delivery of health care and improve outcomes for patients, families, and communities
    • Collaborative use of shared expertise to deliver the best patient care
    • Understanding the roles, responsibilities and scope of practice of other health professions
    • Collaborative decision-making, problem solving, and team-based communication
    • Development of attitudes and communication skills that empower patients to participate in planning their care
    • Integration of evidence-based practice, informatics, care coordination, and patient self-management assistance

USI is working hard to ensure that students are well-prepared to fully participate in the evolving health environment with effective interprofessional knowledge and skills.

The development of interprofessional education in the United States mirrors the movement that is developing internationally. Health professions engaged in interprofessional education at USI include nursing, occupational therapy, occupational therapy assistant, respiratory therapy, dental hygiene, dental assisting, diagnostic medical sonography, food and nutrition, radiologic technology, and health services.

Interprofessional Simulation - Cardiac Arrest

A team of USI students completed an Interprofessional Simulation in which a patient suffers a cardiac arrest. The team members, many who met each other for the first time shortly before the simulation started, responded flawlessly and came together to save the simulation patient. This group did an outstanding job presenting to the University of Southern Indiana's Board of Trustees in which they showed them the importance of communication and the future of healthcare with teamwork to achieve positive patient outcomes. 

Respiratory Therapy and Radiologic and Imaging Sciences

Dr. Martin Reed, Radiologic and Imaging Sciences, and Jody Delp, Clinical Director of Respiratory Therapy, engaged students in their first interprofessional clinical simulation experience. Here they share a discussion of issues they considered in setting up the activity and lessons they learned from it.

Student comments on the benefits of the experience included:

    • "We learned more about working with other hospital team members."
    • "I appreciated learning about the specific tasks of another peer’s profession."
    • "It's important to work with another profession and learn how to work with them before we graduate."
    • "We learned about working with other students and understanding the importance of effective communication with them."