The primary goal of the Interprofessional Education (IPE) program at the Lebanese American University (LAU) is to bring together LAU healthcare professions students to learn how to collaborate across disciplines, and ultimately enhance the quality of patient and client health and social care. Therefore, a workgroup of 13 faculty members from the Schools of Nursing, Pharmacy, Medicine, and Arts and Sciences (nutrition and social work) was formed with its mission to establish an IPE program that uses a student-centered educational approach, building on the curricula of LAU’s health and social care programs.
The IPE workgroup meets regularly to discuss, develop, and plan IPE activities. A course list was created on Blackboard™ to facilitate literature sharing. Common educational themes included: Communication; Compliance and Adherence; Conflict negotiation; Ethics in clinical practice; Evidence-based medicine; Health promotion; Patient safety; and Sexuality. These topics will be presented to students in mini lectures, simulations, and case discussions. All students will have multiple IPE learning experiences during their enrollment. The IPE workgroup also held a retreat to share the IPE goals, mission, and plans with the rest of faculty. In addition, faculty and students of participating schools were surveyed for their readiness and interest in the IPE program. Survey results showed high interest and support for the IPE program, its goals and objectives. Furthermore, LAU has included the IPE program initiative in its 2011-2016 Strategic Plan, which substantiates the value and commitment of LAU leaders to IPE.
To streamline course delivery and considering students’ level of readiness (e.g., clinical experience; familiarity with interdisciplinary practice), students will be grouped into three “steps”: 1, 2, and 3. In Step 1, students who have not yet had clinical learning experiences will be brought together for learning activities, regardless of their class year. Step 2 students are those enrolled in their initial clinical experiences. Step 3 students are those nearing graduation with extensive clinical experiences and broader knowledge of healthcare. IPE is not limited to classroom and laboratory settings. Pharmacy, medicine, and nursing students and faculty are collaborating in the clinical setting using an interprofessional collaborative practice model at a Volunteer Outreach Clinic that serves a select population in an underserved area. This experience is helping students learn about each other’s roles and how to work together in identifying and addressing patient care needs.
Assessment and evaluation are important aspects of the IPE program. Students and faculty will be asked to complete evaluations for their IPE learning activities. Instruments that have been utilized by other IPE programs will be used to assess the overall impact of the IPE program on students learning. Data generated from these assessments will guide the future direction of the IPE program.
One of the most rewarding aspects of our experience is the enthusiasm that is generated among the faculty and students across our health and social care programs. Faculty and students are learning how to work together more effectively, all for the benefit of health and social care patients and clients.