Dean On Campus Blog

It takes a community to make a healthcare professional

“Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.”

– Michael Jordan


This week is the wrap-up to a great interprofessional (IPE) learning program in the Faculty of Health Sciences: the Collaboration in Action project (CIA). Since 2011, the Office of Interprofessional Education and Practice (OIPEP) has offered CIA, which takes students into the community to partner with health care mentors – individuals in the community who are affected by multiple health challenges, to learn about and experience collaborative teamwork. This is a big effort involving 270 students (all second-year Nursing, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy students), 61 community mentors with chronic health challenges and 32 faculty/clinician/community member judges.

The CIA project helps to ensure that our students enter their health care practices well trained in the six interprofessional competencies documented in A National Interprofessional Competency Framework (CIHC, 2010)[i]:

  • interprofessional communication
  • patient/client/family /community-centred care
  • role clarification
  • team functioning
  • collaborative leadership
  • interprofessional conflict resolution

The CIA project is just one of nearly a dozen programs from OIPEP, under the leadership of Director, Dr. Rosemary Brander and a big “community” of faculty and community/patient representatives, staff and students. Below is a simplified diagram showing the progression of IPE learning that students from all three schools (Medicine, Nursing and Rehabilitation Therapy) receive as part of their education at Queen’s


Imbuing our future healthcare professionals with interprofessional competencies is a priority, one with global relevance. It has been identified via the World Health Organization (WHO) Framework for Action on Interprofessional Education[i] & Collaborative Practice. I think the following paragraph from the 2010 report by The Commission on Education of Health Professionals for the 21st Century, states this quite well:

For interprofessional education, health needs teamwork, and this necessity has grown in importance because of the transformation of health systems. The emergence of non-communicable diseases, for which patient care becomes a series of transitions from home to hospital to rehabilitation facilities and back to home again, necessarily engages a host of multidisciplinary professionals—social workers, nurses, therapists, doctors, counsellors, etc—who must work together to provide a seamless web of health services.


Transforming education to strengthen
health systems in an interdependent world
(The Lancet, Dec 2010)[ii]

If you have any thoughts on the importance of IPE, please comment on this post, or better yet, drop by my office at the Macklem House…my door is always open.


P.S. My thanks to Peter Aitken, our communications officer, for his help with preparing this post.


19 Responses to It takes a community to make a healthcare professional

  1. Leda Raptis says:

    I had breast cancer recently, so I could qualify as a patient for medical students. Also physiotherapy students, I have lymphedema too.
    Thanks a lot
    Leda Raptis

  2. Leslie Flynn says:

    Dear Richard,
    Thank you for highlighting this important educational program which brings together our learners, our community mentors, our faculty, and our regional preceptors through the work of the Office of Interprofessional Education and Practice. This office, under the leadership of Dr. Rosemary Brander, is assisting us to prepare healthcare professionals for the future. Thanks for this important acknowledgement of the OIPEP contribution to the Faculty of Health Sciences and to our community.

  3. JH Coyle [Queen's Meds] says:

    R – – I enjoy the letters – – Variety is needed to further discussion – – A depressing trend that I have noticed creeping into medical practice today – is – the business of medicine has certainly taken over from the Art of medicine that I recall from my time of practice [ may be I was just naïve ] – – – – By the way – try and find a better word than ‘practice’ – that has always had such a negative connotation – implying that we are using patients to learn – rather than treat – – Just some random thoughts – – JIM – –

    • reznickr says:

      Thanks for your comments. We are trying hard in the curriculum to strike the balance between the “art and the science”. Not sure I understand the problems with the use of the word practice.


  4. C. Jamieson says:

    My father has been a mentor for the first time this year and enjoyed the experience immensely. It was wonderful for him to reconnect to academia and the excitement and ideas of the students on his “team.” I realize the project is important for the students to expand their perceptions of both the forms of healing involved and the art of teamwork itself, but I cannot help but believe that for the mentors, to give back, to add value, and to feel a part of a larger community is also immensely important. Thank you for continuing to support this insightful and important initiative. Is there any sense of when the doctors in training will be going the therapists and nurses in this critical learning?

  5. Charles T. Low says:

    Why are medical students absent?

    • paitken says:

      Response from Rosemary Brander – Director OIPEP

      Dear Mr. Low,

      Thank you for your question. We have had one medical student participate voluntarily in each of the last two years of the Collaboration in Action learning event and they were great additions to team discussions and learning.

      The Office of Interprofessional Practice & Education is working together with faculty representatives from the Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Rehabilitation Therapy to review interprofessional learning and curriculum needs for our students. We want to ensure that Queen’s FHS students are involved in any and all opportunities that will prepare them with excellence in the competencies needed to enter their chosen professions upon graduation. I will bring your question to this group for further discussion.

      You may know that there are other interprofessional learning events where Faculty of Health Science students (medicine, nursing, occupational therapy and physical therapy students) learn from, with and about each other together, as in ‘Introduction to Interprofessional Collaboration’. In this event, all first year medicine, nursing and rehabilitation therapy students are required to participate and are have facilitated interprofessional discussions together. As we review the curricular opportunities for our students, we will continue to seek and consider the best interprofessional experiences to meet their needs.

      Rosemary Brander

      • Charles T. Low, MD says:

        Thanks Rosemary. A general observation is that physicians are often omitted from larger-scale projects. We tend to focus on individual patient care (very broadly generalizing, I know), vitally important though that is. Our absence is partly our own fault, but not entirely. And yet of course physicians are so integral to patient management that not involving us has been shown repeatedly to lead to decidedly suboptimal uptake of good initiatives.

        I’m not exaggerating when I opine that we need a sea-change about this. What I’m suggesting is very big, which is part of the challenge, that many of the small adjustments which we make are … small! Convincing physicians to step up to the plate will be a major effort, given our long history of disenfranchisement, but I believe that it needs to be addressed.

        Inter- and multi-disclipinary care is clearly the way of the future, and much better for both the patient and the workers than our “old” ways. Physicians are possibly a full half of that story, and yet we are often an afterthought in how we proceed.

        So, I see it as good that it’s on your radar, that you’re working on it, and that something like OIPEP exists at all. That’s all very encouraging.

        Thanks again.

        (Anesthesia, Brockville)

  6. Hi Richard,

    Acknowledgement is so important in teamwork and I wish to recognize the true champions and engines of the CIA event, Ms. Anne O’Riordan, OIPEP and SRT, Ms. Jo-Anne Petersen, SON, Ms. Kiley Rider, OIPEP. There were many other faculty and clinician participants and judges that deserve appreciation but are too numerous to mention here.

    Thank you for highlighting the Collaboration in Action project and the many interprofessional educational opportunities happening within the Faculty of Health Science at Queen’s. The Office of Interprofessional Education & Practice is very pleased to be contributing to and partnering with the Schools of Medicine, Nursing and Rehabilitation Therapy in these endeavours. I like to say that Interprofessional Education has a great legacy at Queen’s. It was a great asset in my own undergraduate education in physiotherapy at Queen’s way back!


    • reznickr says:

      Thanks Rosemary,

      I echo your sentiments of recognizing the work of Anne O’Riordan, Jo-Anne Petersen, and Kiley Rider. , OIPEP. Congratulations on a great team effort.


    • reznickr says:

      Thanks Rosemary,

      I echo your sentiments of recognizing the work of Anne O’Riordan, Jo-Anne Petersen, and Kiley Rider. , OIPEP. Congratulations on a great team effort.


  7. Sheila Allard says:

    Having been a mentor for the CIA project since it’s inception I strongly believe that our health care system will only profit from the inclusion of medical students in the CIA project. Also, as a mentor for the First Patient program, which is also a very good program, I believe there would be a way to have medical students participate in both excellent programs; at the moment, the First Patient program concludes in January of second year. If, instead, it
    were to conclude just one month earlier, in December, the medical students could then participate in the CIA project in January, which would provide the medical students with invaluable knowledge of other disciplines, and thus, tools that could only improve the care of their future patients. It is my hope that the 2015 CIA project
    will include the second year medical students along with the nursing, occupational therapy and physiotherapy students….our health care system will be the better for their participation.

    • reznickr says:

      Thanks Sheila,

      I agree we should be exploring ways to include all of our students in all of our IPE initiatives.


  8. Mary Lou Boudreau says:

    I have acted as a CIA mentor for the past few years. It has been quite an exciting experience watching students of three different disciplines work together, learning about each other and how to collaborate. Prior to the exacerbation of my Rheumatoid Arthritis, I was a faculty member in the School of Rehabilitation and did some work with volunteer patients. Although I respected the role that these volunteers played, I never fully appreciated what a gift that these wonderful people give to the students. It takes some guts to reveal your medical history and your challenges in dealing with daily life to people you don’t know. The students make this easier by listening with great interest and respect. All around, this is a great program. I offer my congratulations to Anne O’Riordan for her leadership in this project. As mentioned by a previous writer, I would hope to see the involvement of medical students in future years.

    • reznickr says:

      Thanks Mary Lou,

      Your comments are much appreciated as was your time as a faculty member and an SP volunteer. We will take your comments to heart and work hard at continuing these IPE initiatives.


  9. Glenda Anderson says:

    As a mentor in the IPE program this year I have enjoyed working with the students and feel that is a positive way for them to truly learn about the disabilities, that they will be treating and a positive future for the patient care. the better that they are trained the better treatment that patients will receive- a win win for everyone. I look forward to participating again in the future.

    • reznickr says:

      Dear Glenda,

      Thanks so much for your kind and positive words. We truly believe IPE will continue to evolve and increasingly penetrate our curricula.


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