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New Creighton center will promote team-based, clinic-centered approach to health care

Students from all of the health professions are getting more opportunities to serve in interprofessional capacities, thanks to a new program and office at Creighton, the Center for Interprofessional Education and Research.Interprofessional practice and education in health care have long been hallmarks of Creighton University’s health sciences approach.

Now, the University is moving to normalize its interprofessional programs in the School of Dentistry, the Department of Emergency Medical Services, the School of Medicine, the College of Nursing and the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions through the Center for Interprofessional Practice, Education and Research (CIPER).

CIPER will help support the interprofessional accreditation and aims of all programs in the health sciences at Creighton, helping build the model of team-based care and collaboration being touted by the American Interprofessional Health Collaborative.

“It presents a bit of a challenge for us, with the different health professions we have represented at the University and different sets of guidelines in place for each of them,” said Joy Doll, OTD, OTR/L, an associate professor in the Department of Occupational Therapy in the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions and the executive director for CIPER. “But this is the look of health care today. It’s sharing knowledge among all the professions to deliver better care.”

The first push of CIPER is an online, self-paced interprofessional course being taken by all students in the health sciences. Faculty development courses will be the next phase of the developing center.

“The goal of the courses is to get basic knowledge flowing among the students and faculty in all the health professions,” Doll said. “We want to be able to speak the same language when it comes to providing the best care for patients that we can. After the online portion, we want there to be more face-to-face interaction because we find that there are questions. Medical students want to know what occupational therapy and physical therapy students do. Nursing students want to know how EMS works.”

For 15 years, Creighton has been leading the way on interprofessional education and practice among its health professions students and faculty with the help of federal grants from the Health Resources Services Administration. CIPER helps build on that history and, partnering with CHI, hopes to further regulate its practices and outcomes across the disciplines.

In addition to the coursework, Creighton’s is one of just a handful of similar programs around the country to provide a clinic site where interprofessional practice is put into everyday situations and decisions. The CHI Creighton University Medical Center-University Campus facility slated for completion next year will have a dedicated clinic space for just this interaction.

The clinic site is poised to be a model for future sites around the nation, and something national interprofessional practice organizations are interested in developing more broadly.

“It’s changing the culture and the attitude and the science around interprofessional practice and education,” Doll said.

Nearly 900 students have already taken part in the Introduction to Collaborative Care course and, Doll said, the responses from those students have been overwhelmingly positive.

“We’re seeing a lot of students saying, ‘We really appreciate this,’” she said. “‘It’s applicable not just to our professions, but to our lives.’ We all think we know how to be on a team, but it’s sometimes difficult when we are talking about health care. This is the conversation, the education we need to start promoting.”

Creighton University is a Jesuit, Catholic university bridging health, law, business and the arts and sciences for a more just world.