Healthy Ideas

Ellie Phillips

The Office of the Vice Provost for Health at Grand Valley State University will be hosting the sixth
annual West Michigan Interprofessional Education Conference, called “High Quality, Lower Cost: the
Case for Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice.”

According to the World Health Organization, interprofessional education occurs when those from
two or more professions learn about, from and with each other how to enable effective
collaboration and improve health outcomes.

“What makes interprofessional collaborative practice unique is the intentional patient-centered
communication and sharing of information among team members that results in reducing
unnecessary testing, improving the patient healthcare experience and establishing a comprehensive
plan of care based on the needs and goals of the patient,” said Jean Nagelkerk, vice provost for
health at GVSU.

The conference will be co-hosted by the Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners and Michigan
State University’s College of Human Medicine.

The key topic of discussion will include how a team approach in health care can positively affect
patient safety, improve healthcare quality and lower healthcare costs. Brenda Pawl, director of
special projects in the vice provost’s office, said another objective is to discuss how the Affordable
Health Care Act will impact interprofessional education and practice as well as strategies for clinical
agencies to develop interprofessional practices.

The conference will bring local and national healthcare professionals to speak about various health
industry topics over the course of two days. Between these speeches will be three paper
presentations and a poster presentation on interprofessional education in the healthcare industry.

“We have paper and poster presentations on Friday showcasing efforts in infusing interprofessional
collaborative practice and education,” Pawl said. “Some of the universities represented are
Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, University of Missouri, University of Pittsburgh, University of Michigan,
University of Cincinnati, University of Tennessee, Indiana, Ferris State University, Central Michigan
University, Grand Valley State University and several practice partner organizations.”

The Conference began in 2007 when the vice provost for health at GVSU met with the president and
CEO of Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners and the associate dean for community-wide
assessment from the MSU College of Human Medicine.

To develop the infrastructure for interprofessional education and practice for students across
various health professions programs, they formed a steering committee with six workgroups
comprised of 130 community partners from 22 organizations throughout West Michigan. The
conference came about as a natural way to bring national and international experts into the effort.

The conference is more than just a gathering of healthcare professionals, though. As the region’s
top provider of healthcare professionals, GVSU is also one of eight pioneer innovations incubators
for the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education.

“These incubators are a collective think-tank and testing sites for interprofessional education and
collaborative practice,” Pawl said. “This is important for the quest to provide safe patient-centered
care, improve population health, and drive down the costs of healthcare.”

The conference usually brings in more than 150 members of the healthcare community, from
administrators and practitioners to educators and students. Registration for this year’s conference
has already exceeded that count, and with registration still open, the number of attendees is
expected to increase.

There is no registration fee for West Michigan Interprofessional Education Initiative members or
GVSU faculty, staff and students. For other participants, there is a $50 fee and registration closes
Sept. 13. The conference will be held in the Loosemore Auditorium on GVSU’s Pew Campus on Sept.
19 from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and will continue on Sept. 20 from 7 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., with lunch
offered at 11:50 a.m.

To register, visit or email [email protected].

[email protected]