Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

An Interprofessional Education Session for First-Year Health Science Students

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

An Interprofessional Education Session for First-Year Health Science Students

Article excerpt


Pharmacists practice in diverse and evolving health care environments, working as integrated members of patient care teams. (1-3) Therefore, pharmacy students need to learn competencies required to practice in collaborative environments. The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, (4) the Center for Advancement of Pharmacy Education, (5) and the Canadian Council on Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs, (6) each includes interprofessional teamwork among its curricular requirements. Furthermore, both the 2003 Institute of Medicine report, (7) and the Canadian Patient Safety Institute's Safety Competencies (8) articulate the need to incorporate teamwork to achieve safe practices. Curricula designed to provide these competencies may include classroom-based lectures, (9) interprofessional small-group simulated/case discussions, (9-15) practice site-based experiences, (16,17) and Web-based interactions. (18,19)

This form of education can provide a number of positive outcomes for students including enhancing students' awareness of other professional groups, improving their knowledge and understanding of how to work in an interprofessional team, reducing negative stereotypes of other professional groups, and strengthening their communication and collaboration skills. (20,21)

At the University of Toronto (UT), pharmacy students have participated in an evolving IPE program at several stages of their learning, including large interprofessional education sessions and smaller case-based group discussions involving several other health disciplines. Since 2002, all third-year students have represented 1 of 6 professions enrolled in the Interfaculty Pain Curriculum. (10) During their fourth year, a small number of pharmacy students participate in IPE modules concurrent with a profession-specific advanced pharmacy practice experience. (16) In this paper, we report on pharmacy students' experiences in a first-year introductory IPE session.

In 1998, an interprofessional committee of faculty members representing the health science programs, including pharmacy, at UT was established. An introductory IPE session for first-year students from at least 6 different professions had been organized and evaluated annually since 2002. The format, venue, and scheduling varied each year; however, the primary focus was providing opportunities for first-year students from different health professions to listen to patient stories and communicate with one another about their roles within the health care system. With the establishment of the Office of Interprofessional Education in early 2006, (22) the infrastructure was in place to formally plan, implement, and evaluate the first-year session, with the intention of incorporating this into a comprehensive IPE curriculum. Nine professions participated in 2006: dentistry, medical radiation sciences, medicine, nursing, occupational therapy, pharmacy, physical therapy, speech language pathology, and social work.

The overall planning, implementation, and evaluation results for this session have been described elsewhere. (23,24) This paper will focus on the experiences of pharmacy students within this large interprofessional, introductory learning session in 2006. Some discussion is included about the role of pharmacy faculty members and pharmacy students in planning an interprofessional session. Lessons learned, which may guide development and implementation of introductory IPE sessions, are outlined.


Stimulated by participation in an IPE Faculty Development Course in May 2006, (25) a pharmacy lecturer assumed leadership of the first-year IPE Planning Committee to plan and implement the session for fall 2006. Representation from the faculty member of each of the 9 health science programs was sought, as well as student representation from the Interprofessional Healthcare Students Association (IPHSA). The student representative brought her own experience from the previous year's session to the planning and kept the Committee's focus on meeting students' needs and interests at this early stage of their curriculum. …

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