UMB Expands Community Interprofessional Clinics

October 3, 2016    |  

The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) will extend its community-based interdisciplinary learning activities to new locations with a new $100,000, two-year grant from the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education and the UMB Center for Interprofessional Education.

The National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education awarded grants to 16 academic institutions nationwide – including $50,000 to the University of Maryland, Baltimore – to boost community-based interprofessional education (IPE) and practice. The University’s Center for Interprofessional Education provided $50,000 in matching funds to facilitate the project.

“We are striving to produce generations of health professionals who are educated to work harmoniously together, ensuring the best outcomes for the patients and communities they serve,” says Jane Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN, dean and professor at the University of Maryland School of Nursing and director of the Center for Interprofessional Education at UMB. “This expansion of our community-based IPE initiative is a significant step toward that goal.”

The University of Maryland schools of Nursing, Pharmacy, and Social Work will work closely together on the project, bringing their faculty and students to two additional ambulatory clinics in Montgomery County to learn and provide care. The three schools already run an IPE clinic with Mercy Clinic in Montgomery County, and the grant allows them to expand their efforts to two more facilities, outpatient clinics affiliated with Holy Cross Hospital.

The interprofessional clinic experience is made possible through the schools of Nursing, Pharmacy, and Social Work’s educational initiatives at the University System of Maryland’s Universities at Shady Grove, a regional center that houses nine of Maryland’s higher educational institutions.

Interprofessional education and practice are key to the future of the U.S. health care system, where an influx of patients is faced with a shortage of primary care providers, says Gina Rowe, PhD, DNP, MHP, FNP-BC, principal investigator on the grant and assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Nursing.

“As our health system moves to focus more on prevention and primary care, we must educate our students to be prepared to work together in primary care and community settings, where an increasing number of them will be employed in the future,” says Rowe.

“When health care disciplines work collaboratively, communication and teamwork is enhanced, leading to improved quality of care for patients,” explains co-principal investigator Heather Congdon, PharmD, BCPS, CDE, assistant dean of the School of Pharmacy at the Universities at Shady Grove and co-director of the Center for Interprofessional Education at UMB.          

“Multiple barriers prevent IPE education in outpatient clinics versus the inpatient setting, including the fact that different health care disciplines aren’t all in the same place at the same time and there is often limited access to space and resources,” Rowe says. “The most exciting part of this new initiative is that it allows our students to learn about interprofessional practice in the context of real patients in the community-based primary care setting.”

The services that students and faculty from the three UMB schools provide at the community clinics in Montgomery County are complementary. First-year pharmacy residents and fourth-year pharmacy students provide medication therapy management to help patients better understand their medication regimen and optimize drug therapy to improve therapeutic outcomes. Bachelor of Science in Nursing students and graduate and undergraduate social work students have provided health assessment, patient education, and care coordination services, specifically to the most complex, difficult-to-manage patients. Now, those students will be joined by those enrolled in the Doctor of Nursing Practice/Family Nurse Practitioner program, an initiative that will expand to the Universities at Shady Grove next fall.

The patients themselves also benefit from the initiative’s expansion to two additional clinics with a focus on team-based care, according to Congdon, who also is an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. “The patients cared for in these clinics are low-income, underserved patients, a significant portion of whom can’t read or write in English,” Congdon explains. “The team-based approach is tremendously beneficial to them. It facilitates enhanced services for patients who need a little more attention and care, such as increased patient education on medications and chronic conditions, as well as assistance with increased access to much-needed resources such as clothing or food.”