The Office of Interprofessional Education at the University of Florida has been providing interprofessional learning opportunities for multiple health professions students since 1999. Our office, in conjunction with the six Health Science Center Colleges, develops learning opportunities that cross college boundaries. These joint educational experiences will result in health professionals who have the attitudes, skills and behaviors to communicate effectively with other health care providers, can work effectively in health care teams, and can demonstrate professional conduct during interprofessional encounters. Ultimately, joint learning opportunities will lead to higher quality, safer clinical care.
The Office of Interprofessional Education at the University of Florida Health Science Center works with the six Health Science Center colleges to develop and maintain interprofessional learning experiences for students. It is clear to many leading national organizations, such as the Institute of Medicine and many other professional groups, that learning in teams with other health professionals is an important way to improve the health and safety of the population. The University of Florida has a long history of interprofessional learning through the Interdisciplinary Family Health course, which began in 1999, and currently involves over 600 students, 125 faculty and 200 families from the Gainesville area. A history of the course and the office can be found here (Academic Medicine Vol 80 No 4 April 2005), and a bibliography is found below.
Under the leadership of David Guzick, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president for health affairs and president of the UF&Shands Health System, a strategic planning process for UF&Shands commenced in August 2009. A 25-member Strategic Planning Cabinet conducted an environmental assessment of our academic health center and met monthly to define our vision and values and develop an overarching five-year plan that will guide the academic health center as a whole and provide the framework for specific strategic plans in each of our colleges, centers, institutes and hospitals. In the Strategic Plan for UF&Shands, interprofessional education was identified as a key focus for the education mission, given the contiguous location and overlapping educational competencies of the six colleges that comprise the University of Florida Health Science Center.
Specifically, the curriculum will train students to develop interpersonal and communication skills with other health-care providers, practice shared decision-making, manage conflicts and show flexibility when working with others. They will learn to demonstrate professional conduct during interprofessional encounters, gain knowledge of others’ disciplines and, especially, show evidence of interprofessional teamwork skills in clinical and nonclinical settings. Ultimately, joint learning opportunities for students from different health science colleges will result in more collaborative practice skills when these students become health professionals, and this in turn will lead to higher quality, safer clinical care. This will be accomplished by determining a set of common required interprofessional competencies for all colleges, and then by providing learning opportunities, both required and elective, to meet those competencies for all our Health Science Center students.