2nd Annual Interprofessional Day Fosters Teamwork

Classes across the entire medical center were cancelled on April 2 and replaced with workshops designed to foster teamwork and respect among all health care professionals.

Nearly 1,400 students at CUIMC participated in the 2nd Annual Interprofessional Day of Action, which included more than 75 workshops and lectures led by close to 200 faculty members, students, and community organizations.

“Last year’s inaugural event really got people excited about interprofessional education,” says Cindy Smalletz, program director in the Division of Narrative Medicine, which organized both events. “Participants in last year’s workshops were enthusiastic and generated a bit of buzz, and we think that increased participation in our interprofessional seminars we conduct throughout the year.”

This year’s event—organized around the theme of social justice—attracted more faculty as workshop leaders and was more closely integrated with the curricula of each school and program at CUIMC.

“This day, to me, is devoted to the creation of community,” said Robert Fullilove, EdD, professor of sociomedical sciences in the Mailman School of Public Health, who used the history of slavery in North America to not only educate students about the source of today’s inequalities, but also to get students thinking about communication among members of different communities.

“The more specialized you become, the more expert you are in a given situation, the harder it is to talk to other people about what you do, why it’s significant and why it has captured so much of your attention.”


Students Take the Lead

Last year’s IPE Day of Action led to the creation of IPE Nights, a monthly interprofessional forum where students took the lead in organizing workshops. 

“Based on that experience, we included student-led workshops in this year’s event, and I think they were some of the most successful,” said Rita Charon, MD, PhD, chair of medical humanities and ethics at the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, who started the annual Day of Action though Columbia Commons IPE.

Jae Moo Lee, MPH’19, is passionate about the impact of traumatic injury on society and helped lead a workshop about this neglected public health emergency.

“Despite traumatic injury being the leading cause of death for Americans under the age of 45, there hasn’t been much public engagement to address the burden of injury on our society,” Lee said. “How can we improve injury prevention and the trauma system? I think interprofessional collaboration can lead to a real solution.”

“I’m specifically drawn to interprofessional education because of its capacity to catalyze social change,” said Mattie Renn, MD’21, who led a workshop about gun violence with Jessica Pan, MPH’19. “One moment from our workshop that I really valued was a conversation about how to learn from communities in our research and patient care and free ourselves from our own values, stereotypes, and assumptions.”

For Joshua Gladstein, a first year student in occupational therapy, his workshop on disability rights made him more aware of the issues people with disabilities have in accessing health care. “At the end of the day, the sooner you realize that health care is a team activity, everything becomes more centered around the patient.”


Tradition of Interprofessional Education at CUIMC


CUIMC students in a workshop during Interprofessional Education Day

Two CUIMC students meet with a model patient as part of the 2nd Annual Interprofessional Day of Action. Nearly 1,400 students and faculty from all health-related programs at Columbia—nursing, dentistry, nutrition, physical therapy, occupational therapy, medicine, pastoral care, social work, and public health—attended lectures and workshops during the day-long event. Photo: Amelia Panico.

Columbia Commons IPE has been running interprofessional education seminars at CUIMC for nearly a decade and has developed a narrative approach that brings together individuals from different professions to address today’s issues in health care. 

“We believe that when students develop narrative skills of close reading, attentive listening, and creative writing in a small-group setting, a clearing is created in which all students are able to develop trust in and respect for one another,” Charon said.

“The annual Interprofessional Day of Action allows us to open these opportunities to the entire campus.”