The first faculty and staff will be moving into the new School of Medicine and Health Sciences building at the end of May. The years of planning, design and construction are now becoming a reality. It is a time of excitement and a time of anxiety as this new building represents change for all of us. Aspects of this change are long overdue and very welcome. Some of our eight health professions programs have been located in temporary space away from the main building for decades. We will finally have all of our students located in one building which will be very exciting for all and will help us continue to expand our interprofessional learning experiences.
The international definition of interprofessional education for health care from the Centre for the Advancement of Interprofessional Education is when “two or more professions learn with, from and about each other to improve collaboration and the quality of care.” We have had a one credit interprofessional healthcare course since 2006 that is now required of nine health professions programs, including programs outside of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences. While essential for future healthcare providers, this foundational course is just the beginning of what is necessary to develop the competencies needed for future interprofessional collaborative care. These core competencies are outlined in a document prepared by the national education associations of six health professions. (Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice sponsored by the Interprofessional Education Collaborative.)
The new School of Medicine and Health Sciences was designed with interprofessional education in mind. All students will be assigned to eight different learning communities (mixing the health professions and health sciences) with their own space for socializing, studying and group work – including their own clinical exam room for practicing skills. These communities will be student-governed with advisory faculty and staff. Our goal is for students to learn with, from and about one another from their first day until graduation – working as informal teams and establishing relationships and respect for each other. We are excited to evaluate the impact of these learning communities on our future graduates.
Gwen Halaas, Senior Associate Dean for Education