Southeastern universities receive grant for health care education

Together with a consortium of four other southeastern universities, the University of Florida received a grant from the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation to develop an online training program in multispecialty teamwork for future health care professionals.

This collaborative project, which begins in July, will result in the development of eight case-based, interactive e-Learning modules to be used by more than 5,000 medical, nursing, pharmacy and other health professions students during their clinical training.

“The goal of the modules will be for students to learn about the roles and responsibilities of other health professionals, to gain the skills and competencies that allow them to work effectively as part of a health care team and to use these skills to work collaboratively to identify problems with health care quality or safety,” said Richard Davidson, M.D., M.P.H., UF associate vice president for health affairs for interprofessional education and a professor of medicine and epidemiology in the UF College of Medicine.

Known as interprofessional education, this type of multispecialty teamwork training is crucial for future health care professionals, who must increasingly collaborate with providers from a wide variety of specialties and disciplines in their practices.

“While we have been providing interprofessional education for over 12 years, in August 2009, the University of Florida Health Science Center identified interprofessional education as a key component of its strategic plan,” said Erik Black, an assistant professor of pediatrics and member of the steering committee for the grant. “Our office of interprofessional education was organized under the direction of Dr. Davidson. This project complements our Health Science Center endeavors by establishing what is essentially a laboratory for interprofessional learning, research and practice.”

The clinical learning environment is an ideal place for interprofessional education to occur. However, interprofessional education during clinical training presents numerous logistical challenges, especially for off-site students. E-Learning addresses some of those challenges, particularly if used in combination with other forms of instruction. The eight modules will be able to stand alone or become part of one of two types of curricula. Each type will consist of four e-Learning modules and instructor-led discussion, opportunities for application of newly acquired skills in the clinical setting and participation in collaborative group projects.

The Medical University of South Carolina, the University of Kentucky, the University of Mississippi and Vanderbilt University have joined UF to form the Southeast Consortium for Interprofessional Education to support this project and other interprofessional education efforts.

As these universities implement the modules in their health care professional training programs, the partner institutions of the consortium will evaluate the success of the curriculum in achieving interprofessional learning goals using a mixture of quantitative and qualitative metrics. The consortium will then make the modules available for other institutions to implement in health care professional training programs nationwide.

Since 1930, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation has worked to improve health care in the United States. Founded by Kate Macy Ladd in memory of her father, prominent philanthropist Josiah Macy Jr., the foundation supports projects that broaden and improve health professional education. It is the only national foundation solely dedicated to this mission.