The role of an Interprofessional Student Organization in augmenting IPE: Roles & Responsibilities Across an Academic Health Science Center
Many health professions have been incorporating interprofessional education (IPE) into their curricula. However, many barriers to IPE still remain. Our goal was to create an interprofessional student organization to encourage collaboration and discussion in preparation for collaborative practice. The Interprofessional Relationship Outreach Network (IRON) - a purely student-directed and curated organization that includes the colleges of dentistry, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, and the school of public health at Texas A&M Health- was created to further reduce barriers and forge lasting friendships through discussion and targeted programming for understanding one anothers’ roles and responsibilities in patient care and population health. This programming was online owing to COVID-19 and a geographically disseminated organizational model of the Texas A&M Health system.
IRON members attended meetings focussed on roles and responsibilities of various health professions between September 2020 - March 2021. They completed pre- and post-event online surveys (n=65). Students were asked to assess their knowledge of a particular profession’s scope of practice, level of training, and their role in interprofessional care. Thematic analysis indicated that 76% of students gained an understanding of another profession’s training, 82% gained a better understanding of the profession’s scope of practice, and 76% gained a better understanding of the profession’s role in interprofessional care. 95% of students reported that they learned with, from, and about their peers from another discipline. This pilot data demonstrates that interprofessional student-run organizations can contribute to IPE by building empathy, strengthening social relationships among the health professions, and promoting a team-based approach to patient-centered care.