University of New England Receives Ground-Breaking Grant to Address Patient Safety and Rural Shortages

IPEC students with a patient
IPEC students with a patient

March 19, 2015

Danielle Ripich
Danielle Ripich
Dora Anne Mills
Dora Anne Mills

The University of New England (UNE) received a major grant award from the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation for $600,000 to expand its interprofessional team-based curriculum to all health professions programs. The ultimate goals of this grant are to ensure all health care professionals who are UNE graduates are equipped with the necessary team-based skills to ensure high quality patient care, and to address shortages of health care professionals in rural Maine.

With its 15-year history of on-campus interprofessional education (IPE) started by the Westbrook College of Health Professions, UNE is now positioned to fully expand IPE to all 13 of its health professions programs, including osteopathic medicine, dental medicine and pharmacy. Students will participate in team-based trainings in clinical settings, particularly in Maine’s rural community health centers.

“We are proud to be the first osteopathic medical school in the country to receive Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation funds to expand interprofessional education offerings through all four years of the curriculum,” commented Douglas Wood, D.O., Ph.D., FACOI, dean of UNE’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. “This curriculum will ensure osteopathic medical students graduate with team competencies and with a focus on rural primary care, public health and patient engagement.”

Medical errors are the leading cause of death in the United States, with 80% of those errors resulting from poor teamwork among health professionals. Educating and training students from a variety of health professions together enables them to learn how to effectively work as a team, building clear communication and collaboration skills that will ultimately increase patient safety.

“By educating our students from different professions together in classrooms as well as in clinical settings, we are building the skills necessary for them to be effective members of health care teams and provide patients safer care,” said Danielle Ripich, Ph.D., president of UNE. “By partnering with Maine’s rural health care providers and placing these student teams in underserved areas, we are also addressing shortages of health care professionals, since students who train in rural areas are more likely to return there to practice.” 

For more information about The University of New England’s interprofessional education program, please contact Dora Anne Mills, M.D., M.P.H., F.A.A.P., vice president for Clinical Affairs at dmills2@une.edu, or at (207) 221-4621.

About the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation

Since 1930, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation has worked to improve health care in the United States. Founded by Kate Macy Ladd in memory of her father, prominent philanthropist Josiah Macy Jr., the Foundation supports projects that broaden and improve health professional education. It is now the only national foundation solely dedicated to this mission. FMI: http://macyfoundation.org/

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