Medical Center Holds First Interprofessional Day of Action

Faculty and students throughout the medical center were excused from classes on April 5 to participate in a daylong interprofessional curriculum. The first Interprofessional Day of Action brought together more than 1,800 students from nine schools and programs to attend seminars and interactive workshops that conveyed the necessity of teamwork among health care workers. 

The day opened with a welcome message from Lee Goldman, MD, dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine and chief executive of Columbia University Irving Medical Center.

“Today is important for us, not only as a community but also for the future of health and medicine,” said Dean Goldman. “We believe in health care as a team sport. We increasingly work together with people who have different training and skills that complement the ones we have, so collectively we make a team that is far better than any one individual can possibly be. I see this event as a ‘first annual’ and as part of our process to bring all of our faculty and all of our students together more often and in meaningful ways.” 

“Our approach to interprofessional education at Columbia differs from other institutions,” Dr. Charon said. “Our narrative approach results in individual-to-individual contact within the context of health care teams. We don’t gather to discuss operating room checklists or who does what at the cardiac arrest code. Instead, whether with faculty groups or student groups, we invite participants to grapple with fundamental issues of the human condition.” 

Columbia Commons IPE has run programs for students, faculty, and staff but decided to reach a wider audience this year with Interprofessional Day of Action. Participants represented all health-related programs at Columbia: nursing, dentistry, nutrition, physical therapy, occupational therapy, medicine, pastoral care, social work, and public health.

Workshops were centered around a collaborative problem-solving activity on pressing topics such as the opioid epidemic, diversity and bias, and veterans’ health. Each workshop was filled with a mix of students from different programs, and they learned about each other’s perspectives by working together on a project.

Olivia Molineaux, a second-year medical student, emphasized the importance of understanding the expertise of other professionals: “We get in our bubbles very easily. It is good to remember that we’re not going to be the experts on everything and we’ll need input from other people.”