News and Commentary Macy Faculty Scholar Alan Dow on Implementing Interprofessional Education

Alan Dow, MD of Virginia Commonwealth University reflects on his work as a 2011 Macy Faculty Scholar and its impact on his career.

What were you able to achieve in your two years as a Macy Faculty Scholar?
With support of the Macy Foundation, we designed, implemented, and assessed three large interprofessional education programs involving hundreds of learners from six of our health professions schools. In addition, we examined some basic concepts of teamwork, how they apply to health care, and how we can integrate the best practices for teams into curricula and care delivery processes. We have published several peer-reviewed articles and are speaking nationally about our results to broaden our impact to other institutions. The program has energized both me and my institution and spurred us towards greater accomplishments.

How did being a Macy Faculty Scholar help you personally?
Becoming a Macy Faculty Scholar had a profound influence on my career. Before the program, I had had some success on my campus as an educator and leader, but I did not have a clear path forward in my career. As a scholar, I gained increased credibility and influence internally and the chance to work nationally on critical educational issues related to interprofessional education and the healthcare workforce.

Being a scholar gave me the time and space in the middle of my career to tackle some of the challenges facing health care and health professions education and I’ve been able to forge a new, more innovative role in health professions education.

What’s next for the project?
The next challenge is having an impact on patients as well as students. Last summer, we received a three-year grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to expand and study an interprofessional care coordination project in a low-income apartment building. In this project, nurses, pharmacists, and social workers collaborate with individuals to help them overcome barriers to health and wellness. In addition, we currently have another grant under review at the NIH for a pharmacist-led community intervention that seeks to place pharmacists in a position to oversee the health of a population. Our goal is to identify new approaches to care that can address some of the big problems in healthcare, and use those insights to shape both training programs and mechanisms of care delivery.

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