President's Report 2006 | Teaching

Interprofessional education project funded

Dr. Vernon Curran, co-director of the Centre for Collaborative Health Professional Education

Students and professionals in medicine, pharmacy, social work and nursing will be learning and working more closely together in future. A federal contribution of $1.25 million was announced Sept. 22, 2005, for the Centre for Collaborative Health Professional Education (CCHPE) at Memorial University.

The money is being used to develop an interprofessional education curriculum with activities that span the health professional education continuum. The CCHPE project, Collaborating for Education and Practice: An Interprofessional Education Strategy for Newfoundland and Labrador, was developed as part of collaborations involving the Faculties of Medicine and Education, the Schools of Social Work, Nursing and Pharmacy, and Memorial's Counselling Centre. A project steering committee has been formed to guide the planning, implementation and evaluation of the overall project. Project co-leaders are Drs. Dennis Sharpe and Vernon Curran

Dr. Christopher Loomis, vice-president (research) of Memorial University, said this federal grant will allow CCHPE to develop a much-needed interprofessional education curriculum with activities that span the health professional education continuum. "During my years in the School of Pharmacy, I saw first-hand how pharmacists work with other health care professionals to meet patients' needs. Pharmacists, nurses, physicians, social workers and education professionals can all contribute to team care. But to be most effective, collective education and training is essential. In this way, team members better understand and value the respective skills of other health care professionals, and acquire the necessary skills and attitudes to function in this important working arrangement." Dr. James Rourke, dean of Medicine, said Memorial is acknowledged as a leading university in collaborative health education. "Our Centre for Collaborative Health Professional Education is dedicated to initiate, facilitate and coordinate activities that enhance the education of all health professionals."

Students in the health professions also endorsed the project. David Thomas, Medicine, Michael Godsell, Pharmacy, Jean Pike, Social Work and Pam Ledrew, Nursing, spoke to the importance of working together and to their commitment to founding a Newfoundland and Labrador branch of the National Health Professional Students Association

Dr. Shelly Birnie-Lefcovitch, director of the School of Social Work, said the Health Canada grant provides tangible evidence of the strong history of interprofessional collaboration which characterizes the health-related disciplines at Memorial University. "This important investment will enable the university to develop curriculum and learning materials that will be of direct benefit to the health and community service system in Newfoundland and Labrador. As a result of this funding, the university will be better able to prepare the graduates of its health-related programs to work in and provide leadership to the interdisciplinary teams found in all areas of professional practice."

Dr. Sandra LeFort, director of the School of Nursing, noted that Nursing, Medicine, Social Work and Pharmacy work well together to ensure that students do some of their core curriculum together. "This new interprofessional education grant will enhance an already strong partnership."

Dr. Linda Hensman, director of the School of Pharmacy, said that for many years undergraduate students from all four health sciences areas have worked together on interprofessional education projects to ensure collaborative learning and develop team skills critical for practice success. "This federal grant will allow us to expand our efforts in this area."

Dr. Peter Cornish, director of Memorial University's Counselling Centre, said, "that by bringing psychologists at the Counselling Centre together with faculty in Nursing, Medicine, Pharmacy and Social Work, this grant will allow us to enhance the mental health skills of licensed practitioners in a wide variety of health disciplines in rural communities across Newfoundland and Labrador."

Dr. Alice Collins, dean of Education, said the Faculty of Education is pleased to contribute to this very important initiative and to collaborate with the academic units of Medicine, Social Work, Nursing and Pharmacy in the endeavour to build together the knowledge, skills and dispositions necessary to the delivery of wellness and health care. For further information on this project, visit