Northeastern Wisconsin AHEC’s (NEWAHEC) geographic region poses a challenge faced by many AHECs trying to implement interprofessional student education (IPE). Its region is located distant from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (UWSMPH), the medical school that supports its AHEC program.
For many years NEWAHEC struggled with implementing IPE programs for students in its region. NEWAHEC convened a summit in early 2010 that was attended by its regional academic partners. The purpose was to discuss the current state of IPE in the region and gauge interest in developing more IPE programming. NEWAHEC partners from nine academic institutions located in NEWAHEC’s region attended (two 4-year state schools, three 4-year private schools, and four technical schools). All offer more than one health professions discipline. Most attendees were deans. Also in attendance were staff from NEWAHEC and the WI AHEC program, and a representative from ThedaCare, a regional health care provider who has developed a nationally recognized collaborative care model.
The outcomes of the summit were:
NEWAHEC facilitated the planning process with its partners. The group articulated a vision for IPE in the region: Every health professions student has the opportunity to participate in an interprofessional education experience, so that students understand and respect the roles of other health professionals. The group identified a total of 30 “gaps” between their future vision and the current state of IPE in the region. Some of the key gaps are listed below:
Gaps were organized into three categories: Data/Information; Organizational/Institutional; Perception. From these gaps, three strategic priorities were developed: 1) Increase the perceived value of interprofessional education among key stakeholders. 2) Create and implement an inter/intra institutional program of interprofessional education that is efficient, effective, sustainable, incorporates best practices and addresses stakeholder barriers/concerns. 3) Develop a plan for measuring outcomes that addresses the needs and expectations of all key stakeholders.
Key actions that occurred after the planning process included:
NEWAHEC then expanded its capacity to provide additional support for IPE through the following strategic actions:
As a direct result of NEWAHEC’s investment in IPE capacity building, the following outcomes have been achieved:
Due to logistics, institutional politics, and a relatively small amount of medical student training that occurs in the region, all of the IPE activities to date have not included medical students. This is gradually changing, however. In 2011 the UWSMPH implemented a training site within NEWAHEC’s region for its Wisconsin Academy of Rural Medicine (WARM) program. WARM students receive most of their third and fourth year training in rural communities. This new WARM site is providing increased access to medical students for regional IPE activities. NEWAHEC’s IPE activities are also getting noticed at “the mother ship.” We will likely have medical student participation in our J-term workshop this year. NEWAHEC’s IPE coordinator will be making a presentation with AHEC program staff at UWSMPH regarding our regional IPE activities.