Interprofessional Collaboration in Rural Healthcare

A large majority of clinicians and healthcare administrators would agree that we need more interprofessional collaboration in healthcare. The evidence in the peer-review literature supports the concept of interdisciplinary healthcare teams working closely together. It fits nicely within the patient-centered medical home. Many educators also believe in this concept and many universities are restructuring how health professional students learn in the classroom and outside of the classroom to foster more teamwork. Here at the University of Arizona, for example, faculty from four different Colleges, medicine, nursing, pharmacy and public health, are teaching a series of new on-line courses on quality and safety where graduate students from these disciplines learn together.

In the rural context, where there typically exists a shortage of health professionals, the need for interdisciplinary teams is even stronger.

Despite the widespread agreement on the concept of teamwork and different health professionals sharing different roles, operationalization is still problematic. Many health professionals can trace their roots back to the guild system of the middle ages or even further back and so there are hundreds of years of  entrenched nature of protecting one’s turf. In the educational world, while the concept of teaching different health professional students together sounds well and good, many universities struggle with putting it into practice. If a faculty member has been hired by the Dean of that Faculty to teach students in that Faculty, how can that faculty member teach students in another Faculty?

Here in Tucson, hundreds of individuals interested in interprofessional health education will be coming to our city for an international conference called “Collaborating Across Borders III, An American-Canadian Dialogue on Interprofessional Health Education & Practice”, or CAB III for short. CAB III will be held November 19-21 at the Hilton Tucson El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort. The conference organizers are expecting more than 700 people to participate in this conference. If you are interested in learning more about CAB III, visit the website www.cabarizona2011.org.Collaboration, Conferences, Education

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