Improving Interprofessional Education Through Intentional Inclusion of Graduate Research Students: A Work In-progress
Although the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center had a robust interdisciplinary/interprofessional (ID/IPE) education program with strong buy-in from the six professional-based colleges, the inclusion of graduate college research students in the basic bench science biomedical programs lagged behind. Inclusion of non-health professional biomed sciences students in defining the healthcare team, provides opportunity for additional important voices regarding translational science, to be intentionally invited to ID/IPE programming. The goal of our study was to implement strategic methodology and an approach that would communicate the importance and value of this cohort, thus leading to acceptance and engagement by graduate research students and graduate college faculty.
In 2016, our current ID/IPE initiative was formally assigned to the office of the institution’s chief academic officer. Subsequently, the ID/IPE program coordinator and Graduate College Dean strategized methods for intentional engagement. The initial process required information sharing and rapport building through three methods: 1) consideration of institutional infrastructure, 2) engagement with graduate college faculty, and 3) inclusion of graduate college students as planning-team members.
Successful outcomes included quick inclusion of targeted stakeholders and approval and participation of administration, faculty and students. Graduate students have participated in programmatic planning, including significant contributions to a student-led clinic initiative. While additional work is yet to be completed in establishing the redefined healthcare team inclusive of research personnel and learners, we have witnessed early acceptance of this concept.
The perspective of bench science relevant to care delivery expands our traditional team definition, provides chance for a more cohesive health team, and a chance to therefore improve health outcomes. This work-in-progress is of significance because it provides opportunities for other institutions to examine their engagement of additional student cohorts.
Lessons learned include the importance of 1) early inclusion of stakeholders of all levels, 2) continued monitoring of the program and educational benefits with recommendations for additional innovative program development as required, 3) the process should be approached with persistence, and 4) routinely scheduled, task-oriented communication indicating the benefit and value for students in all disciplines to be part of the program is needed.