CIPEH Holds Interprofessional Education Welcome Event

Students were able to learn about the skill sets, roles, and responsibilities of the various participating professions and many were surprised with what they discovered

Aerial image of the University of Connecticut during Fall 2023.

(Thomas Rettig / UConn Photo)

Interprofessional education is one of the accreditation standards for all major health professions, and last month UConn’s Committee on Interprofessional Excellence in Healthcare (CIPEH) held its ninth annual Interprofessional Education Welcome Event for nearly 500 students.

The welcome event dates back to 2015 as an introduction to interprofessional collaboration for all UConn health profession students. It is the first step in a student’s journey toward competence in interprofessional collaboration when they practice.

“Team-based care is necessary to provide optimal patient care and to address health disparities,” says Devra Dang, clinical professor of pharmacy practice and one of the co-chairs of CIPEH, which was founded at UConn in 2013 by the Office of the Provost.

The mission of CIPEH is dedicated to the elements of interprofessional education, service, and research. CIPEH’s membership consists of faculty representatives from 11 health profession programs: athletic training, audiology, clinical psychology, dental medicine, dietetics, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, social work, and speech-language pathology.

Logo for CIPEH
The combination of service, teaching and scholarship are cornerstones of the CIPEH program.

CIPEH produces and facilitates quality educational experiences in classrooms and patient-care settings. Interprofessional knowledge and skills necessary for collaborative, compassionate, and equitable care are developed within health professions students to promote team care competencies upon graduation. CIPEH aims to positively impact the effectiveness of teams to improve health outcomes of individuals and communities in Connecticut.

The nearly 500 students who attended this year’s welcome event, which was held in a virtual format, participated in small interdisciplinary groups and learned about the potential impact of interprofessional collaboration on health care improvement; identified the unique roles, skills and contributions that each profession brings to a care team; and practiced interprofessional communications with students studying other professions. They collaborated on example patient scenarios in a “escape room” format.

“It was very comfortable because I had a great group,” says Aaron Kaszas, a doctoral student in audiology. “Everyone was very supportive, and I didn’t feel like I was alone. We each had a chance to take charge. We made sure we listened to everyone, and we all collectively came to an agreement and then when that didn’t work, we just tried to rethink and reapproach our thoughts.”

“Not one person or one discipline can have all the answers, so when you have everyone around it is very helpful,” says Tess McConnell, a student in the School of Medicine. “Someone may have easier access to the information that’s needed to keep moving forward. When you think about translating that to patient care, it’s pretty powerful stuff.”

Students were able to learn about the skill sets, roles, and responsibilities of the various participating professions and many were surprised with what they discovered.

“We learned from the dental student in our group that the dental professionals could give vaccines,” says Mackenzie Merriman, a master’s student in health promotion, who is completing her internship hours to become a registered dietitian nutritionist.

“It was very beneficial to learn about and interact with a diverse array of health professions students,” says Jake Lattanzi, a first-year medical student. “I left the IPE Welcome Event with a stronger understanding of the different health professions, which will help me connect my future patients with the resources that they need.”

CIPEH is grateful to the students and two dozen faculty who made this year’s program an overwhelming success.

“This is just one of many interprofessional education activities throughout health profession curricula that CIPEH facilitates each year,” says Jillian Wanik, an associate professor in residence of dietetics and a co-chair of CIPEH. “We are also developing projects for interprofessional collaborative practice and research.”