Interprofessional education trains medical students — like Hillary Jaramillo and Timothy Felong — to collaborate with other health care practitioners.

UB 1 of 4 in Nation to Receive Award for IPE Program

Published October 29, 2019

The Association of Schools Advancing Health Professions (ASAHP) has named the University at Buffalo a Program of Merit for the 2019 ASAHP Award for Institutional Excellence and Innovation in Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Health Care. 

“We’re preparing our health professions graduates to be productive team members. Traditionally, their education has been siloed. But the health care community has recognized that teamwork is important.”
Patricia J. Ohtake, PhD
Assistant vice president for interprofessional education

“This prestigious national award signals that the UB interprofessional education program is a leader in the development of future health professionals who will have the knowledge and skills to improve patient and population health through collaborative practice,” says Patricia J. Ohtake, PhD, assistant vice president for interprofessional education (IPE).

Serving Students in 12 Programs, 8 Schools

“We are extremely proud of Dr. Patricia Ohtake, who leads a team of exceptional and innovative educators from our schools of dental medicine, law, management, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and pharmaceutical sciences, public health and health professions and social work,” says Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences.

“This team has worked together to create a comprehensive and exciting program in interprofessional education,” he adds.

IPE is becoming more integrated into health professions education nationwide. UB started a pilot program in interprofessional education in 2012 before implementing the curriculum for all health sciences students in fall 2016. The program now serves approximately 2,500 students in 12 health professions education programs across eight schools.

“We’re preparing our health professions graduates to be productive team members. Traditionally, their education has been siloed. But the health care community has recognized that teamwork is important,” explains Ohtake, who is also an associate professor of rehabilitation science in the School of Public Health and Health Professions.

Treatment by Team Yields Better Outcomes

“These are skills that many health systems are seeking in new employees,” says Ohtake. “Patients have better outcomes when they are treated by a health care team.”

That was the case in May at the Buffalo Marathon, where a team of emergency medical technicians, physicians, athletic trainers and athletic training students all tended to a runner who collapsed from exertional heat illness.

Tyler Farnell, a master’s student in athletic training at UB who was volunteering for the race, knew exactly what to do, and he attributes his preparedness to his education in the athletic training program and to the university’s IPE curriculum.

“I believe that the IPE coursework and forums at UB played a significant role in my response to the runner that collapsed during the Buffalo Marathon,” Farnell says.

“The morning of the marathon, all of the providers discussed their roles and skill sets that they possessed to prepare for any emergency situations, and to ensure that our patients received the best care possible. When the runner collapsed, I understood my responsibilities clearly and seized the unique opportunity to serve my role in that moment.”

The response that day of Farnell and the other UB athletic training students and faculty who aided the runner is a real-world example of why UB’s health sciences schools have focused on interprofessional education over the past few years.

Enabling Interprofessional Collaboration

Halle Sauer, who is in the third year of the doctor of physical therapy and master of public health dual degree program at UB, agrees that UB’s IPE curriculum is preparing students like her to collaborate with other health care practitioners.

“IPE has helped me to better understand my scope of practice, the scope of practice of other professions and how they all fit together in order to best serve patients,” Sauer says, adding that IPE has given her the confidence to discuss patient care with the entire care team and refer patients to the appropriate health care practitioner.

“The IPE curriculum has given me the opportunity to work with students from other disciplines to solve problems that we will likely face in the workplace,” Sauer says. “Premeditation on these common problems will help all involved to avoid the mistakes, missteps and oversights that lead to poor outcomes for patients.”

IPE Program as Series of Digital Badges

Students who complete the program are awarded the Interprofessional Collaborative Practice Micro-Credential Program. This program provides evidence that graduates have distinguished themselves as interprofessional collaborative health care practitioners. The program consists of three digital badges: Foundations, Communication and Teamwork and Health Care Practice.

UB is one of the first universities to deliver its IPE program as a series of digital badges. The Office of Interprofessional Education awarded 387 digital badges in the first year of the micro-credential program.

All 4 Awardees Honored at Annual Conference

Indiana University received first place for the 2019 Award for Institutional Excellence and Innovation in Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Health Care.

Along with UB, two other institutions received a Program of Merit award: the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and the University of Kansas Medical Center.

The recipients were acknowledged during the ASAHP annual conference, which took place Oct. 16-18 in Charleston, S.C.