The Interprofessional Education Faculty Learning Community (IPE FLC), funded in part by the Center for Teaching & Assessment of Learning (CTAL) explores the what and how (and why) of integrating and sustaining IPE-based teaching and learning strategies at the undergraduate level within the College of Health Sciences (CHS) at the University of Delaware (UD).

Because the fundamental tenets of the core competencies of IPE (e.g., respect, ethics, knowledge, communication, collaboration, team-building, empathy, etc.) are more attribute- and behavior-based, there are an increasing number of institutions recognizing the potentially fruitful nature of experiences and learning opportunities for IPE at the undergraduate-level. The undergraduate realm reflects an openness of students to new ideas and perspectives, lack of overt curriculum rigidity, and opportunities to break down barriers and hurdles to collaboration and integration of other disciplines. In short, whereas the graduate-level may represent a key stage in professional identity formation, the undergraduate-level presents an exciting opportunity to plant and cultivate the seeds of the IPE core competencies. The undergraduate curriculum within UD’s CHS provides an excellent opportunity to explore this potential – to build the foundation for agents of cultural change that will then continue to pursue interprofessional opportunities and practice through their future education and professional practice, and in turn, promote better, safer, and more effective patient-centered care.

The IPE FLC will identify key IPE-based teaching and learning opportunities and strategies (e.g., shared didactics, shared assignments, reflective journaling, observation, simulation-based training, etc.) featured in prominent current undergraduate and graduate IPE programs at other institutions. We will then dissect these features, and examine their feasibility and potential (in regards to teacher- and student-based learning outcomes) within the UD CHS undergraduate curriculum. More specifically, once we have identified the what and why, we will then explore the if and how.

Given that IPE encourages a shift from siloed learning to more integrated, collaborative, and interdisciplinary learning – we are utilizing theories related to enhancing shifts in organizational culture. Therefore, we want to focus on a critical few IPE-related foundational attributes and behaviors, such as enhancing knowledge (of health professions), empathy (including perspective taking), collaboration, and communication – elements and traits that are also key values to the University and in-line with UD General Education aims and objectives (most notably, “Communicate effectively in writing, orally, and through creative expression”, and “Work collaboratively and independently within and across a variety of cultural contexts and a spectrum of differences”).

Follow our progress via the IPE FLC Blog


Studies have shown that empathic providers enjoy their job more, are less of a financial burden on their practice setting, and have patients with better medical outcomes and higher satisfaction and compliance regarding their care.  Yet a substantial body of work suggests that aspects of the educational environment negatively impacts health profession students’ ability and willingness to recognize emotional distress in others and, in turn, engage in empathy.  Health professions education institutions have constructed programs aimed at enhancing empathy, compassion, and humanism among their students but attempting to “teach” empathy to pre-professional students may be too late.  Findings from recent literature reviews suggests that anti-empathy elements are indeed present in the premedical realm (e.g., burnout, “premed syndrome”, distancing, etc.).  In short, empathic resistance is happening sooner than we think. In order for the seeds of empathy and other-orientation to take root, and to encourage empathic resilience, we may need to teach health profession hopefuls in the college years before they are cocooned by their discipline-specific curriculum.

To this end, during the Winter Session of 2018, Dr. Barret Michalec will be leading a 5-week intensive course/workshop to train health profession hopefuls in the experience of empathy and the ability to recognize various affective states in others.  This program is funded in part by the UD Horn Program in Entrepreneurship and the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.  Using formal training modules, art-based reflection, simulation exercises, and discussion of related patient narratives and scholarly pieces, this program aims to cultivate and strengthen core humanism and interaction-based skills that can promote empathic resilience and emotional efficacy among health pre-professionals.

MEDT 462 Interdisciplinary Healthcare Perspectives 

This course is the final reflective component of the volunteer, shadowing and healthcare work experiences accumulated throughout the student’s undergraduate years in preparation for a graduate program in a healthcare career. Students will demonstrate evidence of critical thinking and knowledge of healthcare concepts through the creation of an ePortfolio and the writing of reflective papers.

Students in this course are all pursuing graduate education in various healthcare professional fields. Many are on track towards medical school and physician assistant programs. However, there will be students in this course that are exploring other healthcare related careers.

This course is designed to expose the students to other members of the healthcare team. Guest speakers include pathology assistants, nurse practitioners, mental health professionals, epidemiologists and public health specialists.

Students in this course have also taken didactic courses in medical laboratory sciences. These courses include: clinical chemistry, hematology, immunohematology and microbiology. However, since they are not on the certification track in Medical Laboratory Science, they have not taken the laboratory portion of these courses. Students in MEDT462 will visit an area hospital where they will get a behind the scenes tour of the laboratory and observe how the theory they learned relates to the real world of medical laboratory science.

The final component of this course is the creation of an ePortfolio. Students will create specific pages to highlight their experiential learning. In the past, students with EMT or CNA certification have created pages that highlight what they learned throughout this experience and how this will relate to their future professions. Many students have also obtained significant numbers of patient contact hours through various volunteering opportunities in our local community or their home community and they will highlight these activities.

To assist the students in the finishing touches of this project, guest speakers from IT Academic Technology Services and the Career Services Center will provide guidance in resume building and creating a high quality ePortfolio.