Course enhances collaborative practice

Interprofessional education is a cornerstone of North York General Hospital's academic foundation. This is why, for the past six years, the hospital has supported a team of health care professionals in attending ehpic™, an intensive interprofessional education (IPE) certificate course offered by the University of Toronto.

Susan Woollard, Director of the Medicine & Elder Care Program, North York General Hospital
Susan Woollard, Director of the Medicine and Elder Care Program at North York General Hospital

“You'll find that the best hospital teams work collaboratively,” says Susan Woollard, Director of the Medicine and Elder Care Program at North York General. “ehpic™ is another opportunity to reinforce that the whole is greater than the sum of our parts.”

Developed and taught by the Centre for Interprofessional Education at the University of Toronto, ehpic™ is designed to equip health professionals with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to teach learners and fellow colleagues the art and science of working collaboratively for patient–centred care. 

The five-day course challenges teams (consisting of four to six participants from all disciplines) to develop an identified project using IPE principles. Past North York General ehpic™ projects have included building capacity and collaboration in end-of-life care and an IPE approach to caring for patients with behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia.

“It's critical to think differently and explore new ways of approaching patient care,” says Susan, who is a core member of the hospital's first team to participate. “We've found that ehpic™ projects really do help us to enhance our capacity as health care professionals.”

North York General's first team to attend ehpic™ consisted of a physician, two nurses, a social worker, a dietitian, and a psychologist. Their identified project was the development of an interprofessional education program for staff and physicians. This project later evolved into the hospital's iPed program, which has been taught by a core team of interprofessional facilitators since its development.

iPed instantly became a success. It was originally organized as a longitudinal education program consisting of four once-a-month sessions. Upon completion, a formal evaluation was conducted that included evaluation strategies at different levels. This evaluation resulted in poster presentations at local, national and international venues and more recently a publication in the Journal of Interprofessional Care. So far there have been over 140 participants attending iPed, now a one-day event.

“iPed's success really highlights the benefits of interprofessional, cooperation, collaboration and excellent communication,” says Susan, who was the recipient of the hospital's first-ever IPE award in 2014. “It's exciting to think about what we can accomplish together.”