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Macy Faculty Scholar Lauren Collins on Interprofessional Education

New York, NY

Lauren Collins, MD, of Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University, discusses her new interprofessional education curriculum and the importance of mastering team-based care in a clinical setting.

What are you working on as a Macy Faculty Scholar and why is it important?
As primary care practices continue shifting to team-based models like the patient-centered medical home, the skills that students will need to be effective health care providers are also evolving. No longer can students in the health professions work in silos. They need to have the experience of caring for patients as part of a diverse team–with members ranging from nurses and doctors to community health workers, mental health specialists, and pharmacists.

Through my Macy Award, I am developing an interprofessional clinical curriculum that will better prepare students across health disciplines for team-based care and establish them as leaders in collaborative practice.

My project, which I’ve named VERTICAL—an acronym that stands for Value-driven, Ethical, Responsible, Team-Based, Interprofessional, Collaborative Aligned Leaders—will also have the infrastructure in place to evaluate the success of interprofessional teams through a “360-degree assessment” that compiles feedback from instructors, patients, caregivers, and fellow team members.

How will you implement your program?

Since September 2015, I have been designing VERTICAL’s two-year, interprofessional curriculum that we began offering as a pilot program at Thomas Jefferson University (TJU) in January 2016. I believe that our program is replicable for other educational settings, and I hope to see it in more institutions in the future. VERTICAL builds on our existing introductory curriculum in IPE, the Jefferson Health Mentors, which matches teams of students across seven disciplines–that include medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, pharmacy, and family therapy–for two years with specific community volunteers. VERTICAL offers new core and advanced opportunities for our students to become “proficient” members of the healthcare team. In addition to having students care for patients together, I have partnered with key faculty and stakeholders at TJU to develop a new menu of advanced interprofessional competency electives, as well as to identify core competency exercises that every student will be required to take moving forward.

I’m currently working with developers at our university to create a mobile app for 360-degree teamwork assessment based on the Interprofessional Education Collaborative competencies, which includes a series of Likert questions and a few open-ended questions that can help observers identify behaviors of high-functioning teams. The beauty of the application is that students will be able to receive real-time, actionable feedback on their performance from peers, preceptors, patients and caregivers. The app will also pave the way for multi-institutional benchmarks that make interprofessional education and clinical practice a little more seamless. At the end of the two year pilot, we hope to have a 360 degree assessment available for every student and every clinical team at Jefferson.

What are your ultimate goals for this project?
Ultimately, my goal for this project is to bridge the gap between interprofessional education and clinical practice, and raise the standards of team-based care.

We know that when we train the students from our medical school, for example, they are going to be medical experts, but are they really going to be experts in the art of medicine? We need to move our students beyond just being knowledgeable and informed about interprofessional care, to practicing it, demonstrating it, and being able to reflect on their performance critically.  I believe that this type of training will ultimately improve patient outcomes.

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