New Inter-Professional Learning Fellowship begins

Photo by Joe Howell

At the end of July, students from different health disciplines and academic institutions in the Nashville area came together for a unique “immersion” experience. The 26 students are the first participants in the Vanderbilt University Fellowship in Inter-professional Learning: a new paradigm for the education of students in health-related fields.

Throughout the two-week immersion experience, students were given projects to work on together and singly, to explore the different perspectives on health care that each discipline brings to patient care. There were presentations as diverse as addresses from leadership in the Tennessee State Health Department to a poverty simulation provided by Sharon Shields from Peabody College. The students are pictured above listening to Neighborhood Resource Center’s Melissa Gordon.

Krisa Hoyle, a first year student in the Family Nurse Practitioner program at the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing said the experience has been incredible.

“The immersion showed us the culmination of a lot of thought and hard work on the part of the faculty. They put so much into this program, and we benefit from it. It is the wave of the future, for inter-professional teams to address the health care crisis we face as a nation. We are just at the very beginning, and I am proud to be part of it,” Hoyle said.

Fellowship students include first-year medical students and first-year advanced nurse practitioner students from Vanderbilt, first-year

student pharmacists from the Lipscomb University College of Pharmacy and the Belmont University School of Pharmacy, and first-year Master’s level social work students from the Tennessee State University School of Social Work.

“The students expressed a great deal of enthusiasm for what they learned about the Nashville community and the issues facing patients that are at the poverty level. They told us they thought this type of experience should be a requirement for all their student colleagues,” said Linda Norman, D.S.N., R.N., senior associate dean for Academics at VUSN.

The Fellowship is a pilot project, partially funded by a three-year grant for more than half a million dollars from the Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation, shared by the Vanderbilt University Schools of Medicine and Nursing.

Norman and Don Moore, Ph.D., professor of Medical Education and Administration and director of Continuing Medical Education at the School of Medicine, are co-investigators working to implement this team approach to education. Bonnie Miller, M.D., senior associate dean for Health Sciences Education at the Vanderbilt School of Medicine, is the principal investigator for the grant.

In September, four student teams started coming together each week for a two-hour class, replacing a similar course in each program. The teams also meet for one afternoon clinic experience each week at one of four area clinics.