At the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS), the Office of Interprofessional Education (IPE) operates within the UAMS Division of Academic Affairs and coordinates an interprofessional curriculum that is a graduation requirement for all UAMS students in the Colleges of Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, Health Professions, Public Health and the Graduate School. The UAMS focus on interprofessional education and collaborative practice aligns with the Triple Aim approach to health care performance.

Program Formation and Structure

With strong support from the UAMS Chancellor, the Council of Deans and the Vice Chancellor’s Advisory Committee, the Office of Interprofessional Education was formed in 2013. A Director and a 12-member steering committee with representation from each of the UAMS colleges and the graduate school were appointed. The UAMS IPE Triple Aim Curriculum Framework was developed by the committee and approved through each college and programs’ curriculum oversight process. Within the approved curriculum framework, students complete seven core activities aligned with professional development in novice (exposure), intermediate (immersion), and advanced (competence) levels. Core activities include:

CF Walk
  • Introductory, large-scale “exposure” workshop for all new learners
  • Common book/movie events, for example, event based on use of the 1991 film, "The Doctor," with actor William Hurt
  • Team immersion projects addressing Triple Aim goals

To date, in the 2016-2017 academic year, 23 events have been delivered to more than 1600 enrolled students.

The infrastructure for the IPE program has grown to include 3 directors and 5 “pillar teams” composed of more than 100 faculty, staff, and patient/family educators that lead initiatives for (1) Curriculum Implementation and Evaluation, (2) Development (fundraising), (3) Scholarship and Research, (4) Faculty Development, and (5) Collaborative Practice.

Curriculum and Faculty Development

Currently, over 30 discrete IPE curriculum events are in place for students. Learning outcomes related to content-specific learning objectives, patient- and family-centered care skills, and interprofessional practice outcomes are tracked longitudinally. A standardized rubric is used to assess qualitative reflections from students that are used to evaluate knowledge of self (own profession), interprofessional team (other professions), and context (Triple Aim).

“I learned that other professions along with mine need to get together with all the information we have and try to make a plan to help the patient. Seeing different professions interact with one another, you can tell that the patient is being well taken care of.”
Respiratory Therapy Student

More than 100 faculty members have been trained; quantitative and qualitative metrics are used in evaluation of faculty development programming. A process for certification of IPE facilitators is in place. Faculty may be recognized as Master Facilitators if they are certified in 3 different types of IPE activities.

“The faculty development activity was a way to get faculty from all the Colleges in the same room to see the IPE vision come to life in students’ conversations. It was exciting to see the students work together and share experiences. I enjoyed meeting colleagues from other colleges and discussing ideas for how to effectively teach IPE to our students.”
Ashley Castleberry, PharmD, MEd

Factors for Success

Kathryn Neill, Pharm.D., Director of Interprofessional Administrative and Curricular Affairs, identifies several factors as key in the program’s success:

  • Leadership support
  • Student buy-in
  • Flexibility in faculty development activities
  • Consolidated infrastructure
  • Statewide engagement
  • Payer engagement
  • Identification of collaborative practice exemplars

She offers the following advice to other institutions that are developing an IPE curriculum, involving patients/families as educators:

  • Keep the model simple, patient/family-centered, and focused on health outcomes.
  • Minimize the “add-on” impact to the current curricula. IPE is not another set of objectives to cover but, instead, is a methodology to teach, learn, and practice profession-specific skills.
  • Ensure that the curriculum contributes to the institutional mission and goals.
  • Meet and exceed all IPE accreditation standards for each College (Medicine, Pharmacy, Nursing, etc.) and program.
  • Design curriculum content using state or region-specific social determinants of health.
  • Include Patient/Family Faculty/Educators on all relevant teams and committees.

Patient/Family Educators

In the UAMS IPE program, patient/family educators are involved in all four elements:

  1. Co-design and planning of curriculum
    Patient/family educators are members of the Curriculum and Faculty Development “pillar teams.”
  2. Development of curriculum
    Patient/family educators are involved in designing PFCC learning objectives that include PFCC themes for the introductory workshop, common book/movie events, proposals for Triple Aim projects, simulation sessions, and practice-related activities such as health fairs and community education events.
  3. Delivery of curriculum
    Patient/family educators help deliver IPE activities including introductory workshop, movie/book events, Triple Aim projects, simulations.

    They also serve as facilitators/supervisors for professional student participation in practice-related activities, e.g., student participation in the CF Foundation’s “Great Strides Walk.”
  4. Evaluation of effectiveness of education
    Patient/family educators participate in the assessment of those IPE activities and provide feedback to students who participate.