At the American University of Health Sciences School of Pharmacy, we support the World Health Organization’s definition of interprofessional education (IPE): “When students from two or more professions learn about, from and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes” (WHO 2010). Here at American University of Health Sciences School of Pharmacy, we are dedicated to incorporating IPE throughout our curriculum to ensure that our students are prepared to deliver excellent patient care in today’s multidisciplinary health care settings. Student pharmacists in the Doctor of Pharmacy program have IPE courses in which they learn together with student nurses from the School of Nursing and student physicians from locally affiliated medical schools.

To inculcate interprofessional proficiencies required for collaborative practice, our IPE plan incorporates four basic steps: exposure, immersion, experience, and competence.

Exposure

From the very beginning of our curriculum, students are exposed to a variety of health care fields through IPE courses, seminars, guest lectures, and interactive exercises. They learn from School of Nursing faculty and students and other health care providers about the respective fields and how these disciplines relate to pharmacy practice. The School of Pharmacy and School of Nursing students are enrolled in IPE course such as Psychosocial Aspects of Health Care, Medical Illustration I-II, and Physical Assessment. Students gain an understanding of the abilities, competencies, and scope of practice of team members.

Immersion
Immersion

As students advance through the program, they are immersed in collaborative health care environments, both didactic and experiential, where they develop key interprofessional skills (e.g., interpersonal) and interprofessional collaboration is reinforced. The IPE courses incorporate learning objectives derived from IPEC Core Competencies 2016. Students participate in scheduled co-curricular activities (e.g., community service requirement, disaster simulation, health fairs, patient simulation cases) with nursing students thus providing interprofessional immersive experiences. Simulations include standardized mannequin simulated cases and exercises that involve group discussion and team work. During the introductory community and hospital pharmacy rotations, students practice their interprofessional skills in real world health care settings.

Experience

During the Pre-APPE and APPE courses, students prepare to participate in and contribute to interprofessional experiences where students are able to work and learn alongside students from various health care programs to engage in shared decision making and service learning. For example, students are required to complete the equivalent of 100 hours community service (e.g., health fairs, mission trips, advocacy and outreach) and these are co-curricular interprofessional opportunities.

Competence

Through the community service projects, students participate in application of quality improvement methodologies to promote health improvement, wellness, and disease prevention in cooperation with patients, communities, at-risk populations, and other members of an interprofessional team of health care providers. Finally, students spend their final year of the program learning, practicing, and exhibiting their interprofessional competencies during the APPEs. These practical experiences allow students to utilize and polish their interprofessional knowledge, skills, and behaviors before graduation.