IPE in Biomedical Science Programs - Thinking Beyond the Norm
The goal of interprofessional education (IPE) is to prepare learners for interprofessional practice. For biomedical science graduate students, this includes collaborative and multidisciplinary discovery, research, and dissemination. While there are many studies of IPE in the traditional healthcare setting, literature, resources and IPE communities of practice are limited within a biomedical science graduate school setting.
We assessed the current state of interprofessionalism and perceived value of IPE opportunities in the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences (MCGSBS) as perceived by MCGSBS PhD students. We created an 11-item questionnaire adapted from multiple validated IPE surveys. Ten questions were stratified into the pillars of IPE (values, roles and responsibilities, teamwork, and communication); participants recorded their level of agreement using a six-point Likert scale (1=strongly disagree, 6=strongly agree). An 11th question asked participants to describe the team make-up they considered while completing the questionnaire.
72 PhD students completed the survey (39% response rate). Overall, students valued a multidisciplinary team approach (avg = 5. 51). Mean scores for roles and responsibilities, teamwork, and communication were 4.92, 5.38, and 4.59, respectively. The lowest scored item was, “I feel comfortable expressing my own opinions in a team, even when I know that other people don’t agree with them.” Males (n=32) scored higher on communication items, while females (n=49) scored higher on items describing roles and responsibilities. Racially diverse students (n=15) scored higher on all items with one exception, “I feel that I am heard when expressing my opinions.”
This data suggests that students value interprofessionalism and teamwork but don’t feel comfortable describing their role or the roles of others on their team. Similarly, the majority of students do not feel confident in communicating. Integrating formal IPE programming into curriculum may improve these scores.
Opportunities exist to enhance the biomedical sciences learning environment and practice applications through introduction to and facilitation of IPE. In this emerging era of multidisciplinary team science introducing the four IPE competency domains to biomedical sciences graduate school learners and faculty can have profound impact on learning environment, student outcomes, and research productivity.