M4: Interprofessional Approaches to Health Disparities
The primary goal of the M4 year is to prepare students to be future leaders in improving health care for underserved populations. The IAHD program is an interprofessional elective for 4th year medicine and pharmacy students and Master’s level nursing, social work and public health students, through the UIC Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Social Work and the School of Public Health, and with faculty from the participating schools.
M4 IAHD Scholars will elect to participate in a longitudinal self-designed elective, during which they will participate in mentored community-based participatory research (CBPR) and quality improvement (QI) projects designed to provide learners with essential skills to improve health care for underserved populations. Students will build on knowledge and skills necessary for practicing patient-centered care and will acquire core competencies in community-based participatory research (CBPR), quality improvement (QI), and public health.
The Interprofessional Approaches to Health Disparities (IAHD) is a longitudinal interprofessional course offered during the Fall and Spring semesters for health professions students at UIC.
Goal: To equip learners with essential skills to improve health care for underserved populations and transform health disparities through interprofessional education, research and collaborative practice.
Learning Objectives: Participation in the IAHD will enable trainees to:
- Effectively engage in identifying and addressing social determinants of health impacting vulnerable populations;
- Acquire working knowledge and hands-on experience with community-based participatory research (CBPR) and quality improvement (QI) methods;
- Develop an interprofessional community-based research project designed to improve health care access, communication, care coordination, or additional priority issues for vulnerable populations;
- Develop skills for functioning as effective members of interprofessional teams; and
- Develop skills for leadership, advocacy and scholarship.
Rationale: In the current era of health care reform and redesign, new models of health care delivery need careful integration with innovative models of health professions education. Traditional health professions education takes place in silos, with limited opportunities for doctors, nurses, pharmacists, social workers, and other health professionals to learn and practice in interprofessional teams during their formative years. A wealth of evidence supports the usefulness of interprofessional training for effective health care delivery, building collaborative linkages among health professionals and communities, and thereby facilitating the provision of patient-centered care, a cornerstone of quality designated by the Institute of Medicine. Based on consensus by UIC health professional schools, a curriculum structure that integrates longitudinal public health education, with CBPR and QI research, in an interprofessional learning environment, is essential for preparing health care leaders with skills to effectively address the rising burden of key public health concerns.
Key Learning Activities: Trainees will work in interprofessional teams and will engage in a series of didactic (in person and online) and experiential learning activities, including community-based participatory research (CBPR) and quality improvement (QI) training, as well as research development and implementation, designed to provide learners with essential skills to improve health care for underserved populations.
Interprofessional teams will have the opportunity to work with our collaborating community agencies serving vulnerable populations. Students will be able to design research studies around important health issues, including domestic violence, geriatrics, HIV/AIDS, Homelessness and cultural competency for immigrant and minority populations.
CBPR & QI Training: Participants will receive training on CBPR and QI methods during the course of the year. Training sessions will be led by faculty from the various health professions schools represented in the program.
CBPR & QI Research: Interprofessional teams will be formed and will engage in a process of mentored research development to identify and address priority health needs of vulnerable populations served by our partnering community agencies. Selecting, planning and evaluating pilot tests will inform and guide best practices. The Collaborative Model will employ a team-based approach, working closely with the faculty leaders and student teams to assist the community agencies in conducting careful needs assessment and piloting small changes through PDSA cycles. The principal focus of CBPR-QI projects will be to determine desired outcomes in collaboration with the stakeholders. For example, a desired outcome might be improvement in access to and retention in high quality, competent care and services for vulnerable patients who have never been in care or who have dropped out of care. Teams will identify priority issues and QI pilot tests that are most likely to succeed and plan small-scale implementation; create joint ownership of projects; develop research design and methodology including action steps; implement projects; evaluate impacts; and tailor interventions based on findings.
Learning activities will be grounded in reflection, self-awareness, collaborative learning and applied practice to successfully promote student acquisition of core competencies to address health needs of vulnerable populations:
- Students will participate in seminars, hands-on immersion work at the community agencies, and special journal club discussion, as well as leadership and advocacy activities.
- Students will synthesize and disseminate their work, in discussions and in writing, and will present at an end-of-course concluding event. They will also be encouraged to present at national and local scientific meetings.
- Students will submit reflections which will be published in a program publication.
The M4 elective will be open to all medical students who participate in the M2 component of the program. Eligibility for Public Health, Nursing, Pharmacy and Social Work students will be determined by their respective Colleges. Students will be supervised by Program faculty.