PHILADELPHIA – While U.S. optometry schools are progressively implementing interprofessional education, a poster presented at Optometry's Meeting also reported that an equivalent number acknowledged obstacles.
As defined in the poster, "interprofessional education occurs when students from two or more professions learn about, from and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes."
Melissa A. Vitek, OD, of the Pennsylvania College of Optometry at Salus University and colleagues surveyed the presidents and chief academic officers from the 21 colleges and schools of optometry. The questionnaire involved 16 questions regarding the current existence of interprofessional educational programs (IPE) in addition to attitudes, challenges and future plans, as detailed by the poster.
The authors found that: 19 schools participate in IPE activities, eight include IPE activity as a program requirement, 18 have OD faculty members that participate in IPE activities, eight engage in IPE with students from different programs, 14 provide IPE patient care, eight schools have partnerships outside their institution for IPE, 11 participated in an IPEC-sponsored workshop, and 19 reported barriers to IPE.
Specifically, the survey identified the following barriers: lack of resources, need for funding, scheduling challenges, lack of knowledge of first steps, geographical barriers, need for trained faculty and lack of space in curriculum.
"As evident by the number of schools and colleges of optometry in the U.S. currently participating in IPE, the progression is embracing the importance of this health care trend," the authors concluded. "However, it is also noteworthy that an equal number reported barriers for IPE,” they continued. “It is the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry’s mission to provide optometry degree programs with the tools to break through those barriers in order to more effectively prepare their students for the health care delivery system within which they will practice, with the ultimate goal of improved patient outcomes." – by Chelsea Frajerman
Disclosures: The authors have no relevant financial disclosures.