Dentistry, Health Professions Unite to Provide Better Education, Healthcare

By Malcolm Maurice, Health Sciences

WASHINGTON -- Six national health education associations that stretch across a wide array of health care disciplines have united to form the Inter-professional Educational Collaborative (IPEC), a new national organization focused on providing better, more collaborative, patient-centered care.

The purpose of this partnership is to integrate and coordinate the education and partnerships between nurses, physicians, dentists, pharmacists, public health professionals, and other members of the patient health care team.

Leo Rouse, dean of Howard University's College of Dentistry and president of the American Dental Education Association, serves as one of the representatives on the new organization and helped develop the four focus areas of IPEC: Values and ethics for inter-professional practice, roles and responsibilities for collaborative practice, inter-professional communication, and inter-professional teamwork and team-based care.

"Health care teams are critical to meeting the health care of the public," Rouse said. "All providers of health care must learn together the value of functioning as teams in all health delivery systems. Engagement of the oral health community, as well as the broader health professions, is therefore essential."

Stephen C. Shannon, president of the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, agrees that this new collaboration will greatly benefit the health services profession as a whole by producing better students who will then give better care to patients.

"Such care will help ensure the future health and well-being of the nation's populace," said Shannon. "Inter-professional education is a critical component of raising the competencies of aspiring physicians and other health professions students."

The founding members of IPEC include the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, the American Dental Education Association, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the Association of Schools of Public Health.

The new IPEC organization will sponsor its first faculty development institute, "Building Your Foundation for Inter-professional Education," in May. The program will enable faculty from various health professions to meet with peers in collaborative and interactive learning sessions focused on building strong programs for team-based learning.

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