Original Publication
Open Access

Major Public Health Issue as a Vehicle for Interprofessional Curriculum: A Simulated Obesity Module Involving Seven Disciplines

Published: January 22, 2013 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9317

Included in this publication:

  • IPE Unified Facilitator Guide.docx
  • Obesity Case.doc

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Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


Introduction: This resource seeks to continue the longitudinal development of a modular and portable curriculum in interprofessional health sciences education. This is a curriculum that prepares health sciences students for teamwork in treating patients with the leading public health problem in America: obesity. Methods: This curriculum involves a patient case, simulated patient training, and faculty development for the case activity and associated learning resources. This module offers the opportunity to learn from other health care professionals, about health sciences disciplines, while providing teamwork and communication experience with peer health science learners. This module is portable and adaptable to most academic health centers; we have run this curriculum with up to 375 learners, utilizing 75 faculty members from all of the disciplines over a 4-day timeframe. Results: The effectiveness of this curriculum in strengthened by the heterogeneous nature of it. The combination of large group plenary sessions, small group discussion groups, and team-based and patient panels offers a variety of opportunities to learn about obesity in several different ways. Longitudinal tracking of student perceptions of the interdisciplinary cases demonstrates improvement over time, with a 2001 mean of 3.36 on a scale of 1 through 5. Discussion: This represents ground-breaking curriculum in interprofessional education at the University of Iowa. It demonstrates to deans and other administrators that interprofessional education at the University of Iowa Health Sciences campus can work, does work, and should be expanded as new curricula in all of the health sciences is developed.

Educational Objectives

By the end of this module, the learner will be able to:

  1. Understand various health discipline perspectives about the societal impact of the obesity epidemic in the United States.
  2. Appreciate the roles of other professions in addressing obesity disease dynamics.
  3. Develop communication skills with the team members in pursuit of clarifying each member’s responsibility in executing components of an evaluation and treatment plan for obesity.
  4. Appreciate the value of working with an interprofessional team and the value of collaborative effort.
  5. Utilize the unique and complimentary abilities of all team members to optimize the assessment of obesity and develop a culturally competent, patient specific treatment plan.

Author Information

  • Gerald Wickham, EdD: University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine
  • Joel Gordon, MD: Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa
  • Michael Kelly, PharmD, MS: Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa
  • Paula Weistroffer, DDS, MS: College of Dentistry, University of Iowa
  • Jill Valde, PhD, RN: College of Nursing, University of Iowa
  • Janet Hosking, MSN, RN-BC: University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics
  • Laura Law, PhD: College of Medicine, University of Iowa

None to report.

None to report.


Wickham G, Gordon J, Kelly M, et al. Major public health issue as a vehicle for interprofessional curriculum: a simulated obesity module involving seven disciplines. MedEdPORTAL. 2013;9:9317. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9317