Posted by: glamielle | August 21, 2010

Inter-Professional Education – Teaching One Health to students in the medical fields

(Courtesy of Western University)

One Health promotes a multi-disciplinary approach to public health, in which professionals from different backgrounds must work together for a common goal, each adding their part to the puzzle that is public health.

At a basic level, it requires health professionals to be aware of responsibilities of other health-related fields.

Short-term strategies to establish a One Health approach include having current health professionals communicate and encourage multi-field cooperation. This is a conscious transition that these professional have to make. A more long-term solution is to expose professionals to One Health during their training and give them the tools for efficient inter-disciplinary cooperation as they become prepared to enter their respective professions.

Western University of Health Sciences, located in Pomona CA USA, started in January 2010 its first Inter-Professional Education (IPE) curriculum. The program reunites 1st and 2nd year students from the 9 colleges present on campus into groups of 8 or 9 as they are exposed to cases written by various professors. These cases may focus on one specific aspect of medicine or health, but are inter-disciplinary in nature (just like real life) and every team member adds their own perspective and experience to solve the problem presented to them with a multi-faceted approach. The Problem-Based Learning (PBL) curriculum promotes discussion and cooperation between the students and exposes them to the work of their peers. PBL requires that each group is facilitated by a faculty member, however, this person only monitors the discussion and this is overall a student-oriented process. The group members are responsible for steering the analysis of the case and its progression. The elect which strategy would be beneficial to follow and identify what issues or concept are important.

I had the occasion to participate to this IPE courses as a facilitator (faculty member) responsible for several different student groups. This was a unique experience, to sit in the facilitator’s chair, after having been taught veterinary medicine at Western myself through a PBL system. Group dynamics largely depended on individual student personalities, however, the most interesting aspect for me was to see how these students’ views on other health-related professions changed during the course. During my professional career, I have noticed that people do not always appreciate the range of work executed by veterinarians and IPE is a way to introduce these health professions to one another.

The hopes are that, after graduation, work in inter-disciplinary teams will be easier for these students as they will have been exposed to the challenges of such environment.

The course is mandatory for all students enrolled in 1st and 2nd years at Western University, regardless of their future professional interests and some may not see themselves working in the public health field. It is important, however, to remember that every health professional is a public health advocate and that a better understanding of One Health starts with a better understanding of health professions in general.

For more information on Western University’s IPE program, check out their website.

Western University is home to 9 colleges:

Osteopathic Medicine (COMP), Allied Health – PT, PA, MSHS (CAHP), Pharmacy (COP), Graduate Nursing (CGN), Veterinary Medicine (CVM), Dental Medicine (CDM), Podiatric Medicine (CPM), Optometry (CO) & Biomedical Sciences (GCBS)

(Courtesy of Western University)

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