Come Together

November 24, 2010 at 5:50 pm

Growing up, I played hockey, football and various other sports that involved being but one member of a team. Playing team sports taught me a lot about life: I learned how to get along with others, work together towards a common goal, accept differences, and be respectful to teammates and opponents alike.

Team work in healthcare is a lot like a team sport. Health care professionals come from various backgrounds, boast different areas of expertise, and bring a wide range of perspectives to the table. And working as an interprofessional team is integral to healthcare reform to help reduce wait time, increase patient safety and improve the quality of care we deliver. The old way is not good enough.

Interprofessional education (IPE) emphasizes that undergraduate health students must learn from, with and about each other for effective team work and collaborative practice. The evidence is growing that IPE enhances quality of care and health outcomes, as well as professional satisfaction and retention.
In 2007, the University of Manitoba established a formal IPE program, chaired by Vice-President (Academic) and governed by a steering committee including deans and directors from medicine, nursing, pharmacy, social work, OT, PT, RT, human ecology, kinesiology, dentistry and dental hygiene. Dr Ruby Grymonpre was hired as the university-wide IPE program coordinator, and an IPE liaison group was created with representation from each faculty and school to serve as champions of IPE.

The initial focus is on undergraduate students. Graduate students such as medical residents, pharmacy residents and dietetic interns are included in the strategic plan incorporating innovations in teaching the CanMEDS collaborator role. A number of IPE working groups have been created for clinical placements, faculty development, health promotion, curriculum development (pre-clinical) and communications. Watch for the university IPE website to go live soon.

In Manitoba, we are fortunate to have incredibly strong partners among the faculties, the WRHA leadership, the clinical site managers, Manitoba Health, the regulatory authorities, and the health professional associations.

This is a new way of doing business in undergraduate education. And learning to collaborate with colleagues in a health care setting is good for all of us – especially our patients.

What has been your experience working in interprofessional teams?