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Team healthcare

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Center for Interprofessional Development, Education & Research emphasizes team-based training

While many issues in the healthcare arena remain contentious, the industry has little debate on training the healthcare provider of the future: They must to be trained in team-based, patient-centered care. So with a goal of cultivating these skills within the next generation of healthcare professionals, Barret Michalec has spearheaded the new Center for Interprofessional Development, Education & Research (CIDER) in the University of Delaware College of Health Sciences (CHS).

“Team-based, collaborative care can improve patient outcomes and promote safer and more effective healthcare while also reducing medical errors, workforce turnover and costs,” said Barret Michalec, associate dean of Interdisciplinary Initiatives & Interprofessional Education. “Education in the health professions must have an authentic culture of teamwork, understanding and collaboration. That’s where interprofessional education (IPE) comes in.”

Barrett Michalec
Barret Michalec

The center recently held its first meeting as an official UD organization, with representatives from CHS, College of Arts & Sciences (CAS), School of Public Policy, and Christiana Care Health System among others.

“Creating opportunities for interprofessional and interdisciplinary education is critical. That’s how innovation is born,” said Kathleen Matt, dean of the College of Health Sciences. “It is how much better health outcomes are achieved. And the interprofessional environment is the environment our students will be in when they join the workforce. That’s why we train the next generation of healthcare leaders to tackle tomorrow’s healthcare problems in interdisciplinary ways.”

If you walk down “Translation Hallway” in the STAR Health Sciences Complex, CHS has already given a clear indication of its emphasis on interdisciplinary thinking. Many of the research laboratories and clinics have teams comprised of experts from several disciplines and professional backgrounds. The college also has significant interdisciplinary and interprofessional space planned in the under-construction STAR Tower.

Michalec said a primary task of the center is to organize and enhance what’s already in place: quality simulation-, service- and experiential-based learning.

“If you go through labs, clinics and classrooms, many groups at UD are already living and breathing this interprofessional focus,” said Michalec, who has a joint appointment with CHS and CAS. “We as educators need to give health professions students the fundamental ingredients to work within teams — communication skills, team-dynamics, knowledge of roles and responsibilities. So when they get to the next level they can hit the ground running.”

Immediate plans

CIDER will soon offer empathy and affect recognition training as a winter session course for health pre-professionals through funding from the Horn Program in Entrepreneurship and the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. CIDER also received funding from the Center for Teaching & Assessment of Learning (CTAL) to support an interprofessional faculty learning community (IPE-FLC), which will consist of a sub-group of CIDER members; the community’s primary goal is to integrate IPE learning and teaching strategies into the undergraduate CHS curriculum.

The center recently held its first meeting as an official UD organization; participants included representatives from the College of Health Sciences, College of Arts & Sciences, School of Public Policy and Christiana Care Health System among others.
The center recently held its first meeting as an official UD organization; participants included representatives from the College of Health Sciences, College of Arts & Sciences, School of Public Policy and Christiana Care Health System among others.


“We’ve strategically identified a few courses to run a pilot study,” Michalec said. “We plan to have full integration across the CHS curriculum within a few years.”

CIDER plans to move quickly at the undergraduate level. Very few schools are integrating IPE into undergraduate curriculum. According to Michalec, this is an excellent opportunity for UD and CHS to showcase its innovation, creativity and forward thinking.

A focus on patients

The center also has plans for the graduate and faculty levels. IPE champion Christine Cook (Communication Sciences & Disorders) recently developed a Parkinson’s Workshop — an interprofessional patient-centered clinical experience piloted for six individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Utilizing the clinical areas of expertise at STAR Health, the public-facing healthcare entity of CHS, each participant and their caregiver received 20-minute screenings from six disciplines — primary care, physical therapy, speech and hearing, nutrition, exercise counseling, and consultation with Lori’s Hands, a non-profit service learning organization in Newark. Students engaging in this program worked with providers as well served as observers and patient liaisons. The workshop was structured to purposely allow for health profession students to learn with, from and about each other and their associated care delivery roles.  

“Our participants with Parkinson’s rated their care as ‘five stars’ across the board; our students remarked that they learned more during this one afternoon about our collaborating disciplines than they have in their coursework,” said Cook, director of clinical research for Communication Sciences & Disorders. “We look forward to offering these workshops monthly and continuing to serve our community and grow the next generation of healthcare professionals.”

The day also featured a presentation on Parkinson’s disease research and the search for a cure from Veronique Enos Kaefer of The Michael J. Fox Foundation; she also discussed updates for living well with Parkinson’s Disease.

While Parkinson’s disease was area of focus on this occasion, CIDER hopes to apply this patient-centered model to other disorders in the future.

Showcasing the data

One of CIDER’s primary objectives is to promote IPE-based research within CHS and UD. To that end, CIDER has developed evaluation and assessment protocols associated with each of its program initiatives. The center has plans to disseminate its findings and use pilot data to attract further external funding. CIDER already features several recent IPE-based publications on its website, with numerous works in progress. Currently, Michalec is collaborating with Ian Sampson, a faculty member in the Art & Design department, on an auto-ethnographic case story of building the IPE program here at UD, told through text and comic book art. CIDER will present at the upcoming Collaborating Across Borders (CAB) in Alberta, Canada. At this conference, Michalec will also lead a workshop on effective evaluation of interprofessional practice and training programs along with colleagues from the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education, and Thomas Jefferson University.

“We have a chance here to put the University of Delaware on the IPE map and be truly innovative in doing so,” said Michalec. “With the energy surrounding CHS and STAR Campus, it’s like lightning in a bottle; it’s contagious. CIDER and our initiatives are reflective of that energy and purposeful drive.”

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