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An Interprofessional Collaborative Student-Run Clinic by Dental, Nursing and Medical Faculty and Students at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio for Refugees

Published: August 21, 2013 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9497

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  • IPE Competencies.docx
  • IPE Pod Instructor's Guide.docx
  • IPE Pod PP.pptx

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The University of Texas Health Science Center (UTHSCSA) Schools of Dentistry, Nursing and Medicine will operate an interprofessional collaborative educational pod. The education pod will provide care for refugee and other underserved populations living within approximately a five mile radius of the UTHSCSA. Our project is innovative because an interprofessional team of UTHSCSA health professional faculty and students will offer primary health care services to a medically underserved population of resettled refugees from the war-torn areas of the Middle East, Southeast Asia and Africa who reside in a five mile radius of the project location.

The education pod provides a unique interprofessional collaborative clinical training and faculty practice site for UTHSCSA‘s students and faculty. This opportunity will enable students to translate theoretical concepts into practice. The pod includes the ongoing efforts of eight interprofessional faculty members and 40 interprofessional students per month over the last 23 months. The project substantially benefits a poor and underserved refugee population and will focus on primary care, wellness and prevention strategies in a culturally proficient environment. UTHSCSA health profession students will acquire skills to work with culturally diverse populations while developing a sense of social justice.

The pod will follow the established IPE model to improve the practice of the contemporary health professionals by developing the competencies recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). Students will communicate and collaborate as a whole integrative body and not as separate collateral units. Upon completion of such collaboration, it is hoped that the students will develop strong working relationships with other disciplines within the Health Science Center. By modeling a patient-centered interprofessional practice in a teaching/learning setting, it is hoped that a natural progression of collaborative practices will occur when the students graduate and enter the workforce. This IPE pod will operate in an established University Health System (UHS) clinic as a faculty supervised student-run clinic. UHS provides four exam rooms, a waiting area, laboratory, medication room, a classroom, and use of the UHS electronic medical record (EMR) system. The IPE will have a unique EMR code to differentiate the IPE patients from the UHS clinic’s population. Informed consents, permission to photograph and clinic policies including HIPPA/privacy policy, is explained to every patient at the beginning of the treatment. During orientation to the clinic, students will complete a cultural self-assessment to help them reflect upon their cultural values. Throughout their clinic experiences they will participate in an ongoing discussion such as discussion board to reflect upon their developing professional roles and how those roles interface with health profession students also working in the clinic.

Lack of collaboration and inadequate communication between health care professions places the public at risk. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) mission is to improve health by proving evidenced based information to policy makers, health professionals and the public (IOM, 2008a). National priorities for health care professionals are to provide safe, effective, affordable patient centered care that is compassionate and culturally appropriate (Finkleman and Kenner, 2009). Health care professionals not only must be competent in their own profession, but also be able to function in interprofessional teams using the principles identified by an expert panel from the American College of Nursing, American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine, American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, American Dental Education Association, Association of American Medical Colleges and Associations of Public Health (2011). Nurses, Physicians and Dentists all see patients who need care from one of the other disciplines. When teams are working in a team-based collaborative practice, referrals are easily and seamlessly made possible. Interprofessional education is not a new phenomenon, dating back to 1960 according to a content review by Thistlewaite (2012). A push by the WHO in 2009 resulted in encouraging a more collaboration approach among health care professions in order to meet the needs of the aging world population while attempting to manage and treat chronic health conditions such as diabetes and arthritis. There is also a focus on outcomes and safety. Thistlewaite (2012) concludes that educators “must collaborate to provide authentic learning experiences for students who are preparing to work together.” Therefore, it is best practice to activate a generation of students with an attitude towards collaboration with other health care providers while in training in order to facilitate such efforts with ease. According to existing literature, such integration of IPE is not without challenges. Faculty must drive the effort and act as role models showing students respect and effective communication with professionals from other healthcare disciplines. Faculty modeling interprofessional collaboration in action will encourage student learning and collaborative patient care. Additionally, students will experience how community partners can enhance services and support for patients. This clinical effort benefits the health of the refugee or underserved population by offering care to those with limited means. The student-run pod will act as a referral source to other agencies within the community to assist with healthcare, financial assistance, food, clothing, counseling, housing, transportation, translation, hearing and vision care, child care, and women’s health. This project is designed to offer students, prior to graduation, an opportunity to learn their role as a dentist, nurse or nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or physician with how to interface with their colleagues from the other health care disciplines. Such clinical setting will provide the students real life hands-on skills training as well as ability to enhance social justice and provide community service. This educational pod will provide an opportunity for the upcoming future health care providers to observe how their faculty acts as role models in a collaborative rather that hierarchal model of practice.

Educational Objectives

  1. Integrate the IOM core competencies: values and ethics, roles and responsibilities, interprofessional communication and team work into future healthcare professionals’ education in a real life clinic setting.
  2. Identify opportunities to apply the principles of community service learning within an interprofessional team-based clinic setting.
  3. Explore social determinants of health and their impact on health disparities of the San Antonio refugee community with an emphasis on creating a sense of social justice for the student participants.
  4. Observe and model culturally competent behaviors.
  5. Gain knowledge through individual student reflections on their personal role and how that role interfaces with other interprofessional team members in a community based learning experience.

Author Information

  • Moshtagh Farokhi, DDS, MPH, FAGD: The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, Dental School
  • Roseann Vivanco, MSN, RN: The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, School of Nursing
  • Andrew Muck, MD: The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, School of Medicine, School of Medicine

None to report.

None to report. 


Farokhi M, Vivanco R, Muck A. An interprofessional collaborative student-run clinic by dental, nursing and medical faculty and students at University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio for refugees. MedEdPORTAL. 2013;9:9497. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9497