Preparing Health Professional Students for Collaborative Practice

virtual meeting

October 19, 2023

This fall, more than 1,300 health professional students participated in the 1Health Phase 1: Better Together: Preparing for Collaborative Practice experience. The majority of participants came from the University of Minnesota and represented 16 health professional degree programs, while the remaining 147 students came from the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth and represented four health professional degree programs.

Offered through the Center for Interprofessional Health (CIH), the Better Together course is an interprofessional learning experience that introduces health professional students to foundational concepts of interprofessional education and collaboration. Each student completes a one-hour online module and participates in one three-hour live Zoom session where they engage with a small interprofessional group of peers to participate in several interactive learning activities, including an exploration of communication styles, case scenario discussions, and small group conversations with two health professional guests. 

One student participant said, “The most valuable aspect of Better Together was to learn that communication is powerful and it is essential, and we must communicate effectively for the benefit of the patient. Communication with other professionals isn't a sign of weakness, but instead an opportunity for growth, understanding, learning, and networking.” 

CIH recruited 110 practicing health professional volunteers to participate in one or more of the Better Together sessions, during which they meet with small groups of students to provide a detailed glimpse at what interprofessional collaboration looks like in real world practice from their own professional perspective and experience. 

“Students have an opportunity to meet with two practicing health professionals to ask questions and learn about collaboration in the practice environment. These small group conversations with guest health professionals have been one of the highest-rated parts of the Better Together sessions,” said Heather Mead Kim, CIH operations director.

“The most valuable aspect of this learning opportunity was the professionals who came in to talk to us,” said one of this year’s student participants. “Getting to listen to people firsthand say how important and transforming teams have been for them in a professional setting was very influential and it got me excited for my future ahead.”

Another participant shared, “This experience allowed me to learn and ask questions with many different professionals and professionals-to-be. Without this meeting, I would not have had the opportunity to hear about these different professions. I also thought it was very helpful that everybody in the meeting was kind and professional which helped me associate positivity with interprofessional communication/relationships.”