Designing and sustaining a longitudinal, clinic-based interprofessional learning experience is logistically challenging, which has limited the educational opportunities available in health professions schools. The authors discuss the Vanderbilt Program in Interprofessional Learning (VPIL), which addresses some of the challenges facing clinic-based interprofessional experiences.
VPIL places first- and second-year students from 4 professional degree programs (medicine, nursing, pharmacy, social work) in Nashville, Tennessee, on teams where they work and learn together in authentic clinical environments over a 2-year period. The program was implemented in 2010 and includes 3 components: a summer immersion experience, seminar-based classroom and simulation sessions, and a weekly clinical experience. Students also complete a capstone quality improvement project. VPIL administrators have set up structures at the institutional, clinic, faculty, and student levels that have contributed to the sustainability of the program.
Between 2010 and 2019, VPIL admitted 398 students who participated on 91 clinical teams. In addition, 55 clinical preceptors and 12 core faculty trained students for future collaborative practice. The program has received consistently high ratings from students, who have produced 69 quality improvement projects at their clinics. These projects have addressed aspects of the care delivery process and produced durable materials, showing that the program has contributed to important innovations in the health system.
VPIL faculty continue to improve the curriculum and administrative structures and work to expand the program to reach a wider variety of health professions students. Going forward, lessons from the program could assist educators in creating opportunities for students to learn interprofessionally and deliver high value health care in increasingly complex delivery systems.