Interprofessional collaboration benefits education, improves care

Interprofessional education lies at the heart of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis. Defined as “occasions when students from two or more professions in health and social care learn together with the object of cultivating collaborative practice for providing person-centered health care,” the practice is a core attribute of the School of Nursing and is complemented by UC Davis Health ’s commitment to put the concept into practice. In order to tackle the complex problems of health care and develop leaders who can solve those challenges, health professionals must learn from multiple perspectives and communicate as teams.

In its 2001 report, “Crossing the Quality Chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century,” the Institute of Medicine called on academic institutions to begin educating health professionals to work collaboratively. With health care reforms, more types of health specialists address disease prevention and demographic shifts to an aging population with chronic conditions, educators and health professionals institute new models for educating health professionals that better reflect the needs of those students will serve. At a 2011 institute meeting, experts asserted “that in order to deliver high-quality, safe and efficient care, and meet the public’s increasingly complex health care needs, the educational experience must shift from one in which health profession students are educated in silos to one that fosters collaboration, communication and a team approach to providing care.”

“In a clinic or a hospital, roles can be ambiguous. Future health care providers must be exposed to team-based learning in order to understand what other members’ roles entail and to develop interpersonal skills needed for communication,” said Gerald Kayingo, a physician assistant and assistant clinical professor. “Here we are grooming our future providers for the care of the future, which is team-based.”

A major reason the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation — the school’s founding funder — selected UC Davis was for its interdisciplinary work. More than half of the graduate programs here are organized as interdisciplinary graduate groups that transcend single academic departments. Graduate groups, such as the Nursing Science and Health-Care Leadership Graduate Group, embody the collaborative spirit at UC Davis by bringing together faculty from departments across campus who share common research interests that span academic disciplines. Additionally, the Interprofessional Teaching Scholars Program, a unique faculty development program for the School of Nursing and School of Medicine, fosters collaborative and innovative interprofessional learning by promoting the personal and professional development of faculty to meet the educational goals, mission and values of UC Davis.

Programs within the School of Nursing engage students of different professions in interactive learning with each other. Nurse practitioners learn alongside physician assistants; students from the public health sciences program are enrolled in nursing courses; nursing researchers collaborate with experts in cancer, pain management and pharmacy in multiple studies.

Since interprofessional collaboration is essential to advance and improve health care for all, the new Betty Irene Moore Hall will support interprofessional education for the School of Nursing, as well as other health science education on the UC Davis Sacramento campus. This building not only adds to classroom space, but it also provides the different types of spaces needed to support the learning experiences of students in the nursing, medical, health informatics and research programs, to name a few. The outcome improves graduate education, benefits graduate students and leads to socially responsive and responsible care to the communities served by UC Davis.