- Report Published -
|A Study of Collaborative Education for Health Professions|
|State Council of Higher Education for Virginia|
|HJR 197 (Regular Session, 1998)|
|Nationally and in Virginia, very little collaborative education for health professionals occurs without significant amounts of continued external funding. In addition to the federal government, the Pew Health Professions Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation provide the majority of funding for collaborative education for health professionals.|
Collaborative education for physicians, pharmacists, and nurses in Virginia is very limited. Within Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University includes collaborative education in its strategic plan and has limited collaborative clinical training for physician, pharmacy, and nursing students, but beyond that has essentially no collaborative education for these disciplines. Although the University of Virginia does not include collaborative education in its strategic plan, it too has some collaboration in clinical training but not in the classroom. The majority of collaborative education for physicians and nurses in Virginia occurs between George Mason University's School of Nursing and George Washington University's School of Medicine. This externally funded project includes several joint classes for physician and nursing students.
Collaborative education for health professionals goes beyond the three professions, medicine, nursing, and pharmacy, named in HJR 197. For instance, Virginia Commonwealth University offers a doctoral program in health-related sciences, which includes a common core for nine allied-health professions. Shenandoah University offers some common courses for students in its five health professions programs, including nursing and pharmacy. And the University of Virginia offers a joint biomedical ethics/nursing program at the master's level. The biomedical ethics program is part of UVA's School of Medicine. Shenandoah University includes some collaborative aspects in its education of pharmacists, nurses, occupational therapists, physical therapists, and respiratory therapists.
Nationally and in Virginia, institutions that are interested in implementing collaborative education say that it is very difficult to do so. Without external funding and strong institutional support for collaborative education, few major collaborative efforts will develop.
Task-force members were in agreement several findings:
• Collaborative education but not core curricula can be beneficial in the education of health professionals, including physicians, pharmacists, and nurses.
• Collaborative education is much easier to espouse than to implement.
• Implementing collaborative education for medicine, pharmacy, and nursing is difficult and faces both technical and logistical issues.
• Collaborative education cannot be developed by a central agency nor mandated to exist. Rather, it must come from institutional initiative.
• Essentially all cases of sustained collaborative education for medicine, pharmacy, and nursing students take place in institutions that have received significant amounts of continuing external funding for it.
• Collaborative education already exists in some health profession education programs that have significant support from the institution's leadership and the professions involved in the educational process.
• Collaborative education for health professionals should not be limited to medicine, nursing, and pharmacy. Other health professions and health-related professions should be included in any future discussions of collaborative education.
Based on the findings contained in the report, the Council of Higher Education makes the following recommendations about collaborative education for Virginia's health professional programs. The recommendations are divided into educational policies and funding policies.
• Educational institutions should continue working to address the technical and logistical issues that hinder collaborative education for health professionals.
• Discussions of curricula should focus on collaboration rather than on core curricula.
• Institutions should continue to seek external funding to initiate or expand collaborative educational activities for health profession educational programs.
• Institutions that offer more than one health profession educational program should consider reallocating small amounts of funding for the initiation of pilot projects in collaborative education. (Informal conversations indicate that funding in the amount of $50,000 or less could make a difference in the ability to initiate some collaborative education.)
Chapter I of this report examines existing national initiatives and introduces the Virginia programs funded by them. Chapter II provides detail on the collaborative programs within the Commonwealth. Chapter III contains the educational community's input on the feasibility for collaborative programs and the educational, fiscal, and policy issues that facilitate and hinder the development and implementation of collaborative programs in Virginia.
In its work, the Council of Higher Education requested the assistance of a task force consisting of the leaders of health professions educational programs. Instead of bringing the group together in face-to-face meetings, written, telephonic, and electronic means were used to communicate with this group, which is named in Appendix B. At the beginning of the study, the Council's staff developed a preliminary report that was transmitted via electronic or surface delivery to the task force. The Council received responses from some but not all of these individuals. In some cases, responses were received from an institution (i.e. Virginia Commonwealth University and Shenandoah University), and an organization (Virginia Association for Colleges of Nursing). Responses from others were either from specific individuals or schools rather than an institution. The responses to the preliminary report are detailed in Chapter III of this report.