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April 2010 Issue

Tiffiny Diers, MD, speaks with April Johnson, of the College of Nursing.
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Understanding Colleagues' Expertise Key to Success in Quality Health Care

By Katie Pence
Published April 2010

Health care is a collaboration between nurses, pharmacists, physicians and other health-related specialists to create the best experiences and outcomes for patients.

But frustrations can arise when these separate entities donít understand the training, expertise and skills of their colleagues.

For this reason, Tiffiny Diers, MD, assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics, is working with colleagues at the UC Academic Health Center to enhance inter-professional education among faculty and students in the colleges of medicine, nursing, pharmacy and allied health sciences, and the school of social work.

This work at UC is part of a larger initiative of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) called the Health Professions Education Collaborative (HPEC), a national collaborative of academic health centers committed to training learners in health care improvement.

UCís participation in HPEC began in 2005, but Diers says colleagues are now coming together with a new focus and working to get as many students involved as possible.
"Our aim is to specifically target the care of vulnerable and underserved populations,Ē says Diers.

"We want faculty and students to get involved in the program and learn how to provide the best care for vulnerable patients by interacting with one another and by understanding the different roles involved in caring for these patients.Ē

So far, UCís team has created an inter-professional teamwork seminar, using curriculum provided by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and the U.S. Department of Defense.

The seminar offers explicit training in teamwork skills using case studies and video vignettes from health care environments. The seminar is taught on four consecutive mornings over one month and will be taught for the third time this month with medical, nursing, pharmacy and allied health students.

In addition, the HPEC team is holding a series of lectures and presentations this spring aimed at exploring health care improvement in preparation for the launch of an IHI Open School chapter.

"The IHI Open School is an international Web-based learning community that teaches health care professionals and trainees about ways to improve health care,Ē Diers says.

"Weíre looking for interested students to participate and become leaders of a local chapter.
"These types of activities are especially important for health professional students who are just starting their careers,Ē she continues.

"Learning to work effectively together in teams and improve systems of care is vital for health professionals to address the health disparities that currently exist in our country.Ē

She says members involved in the collaborative have already had some eye-opening experiences.

"When the locations for several of our meetings were announced, we realized that many of us have never set foot in the other colleges,Ē she says.

"If we donít even know where our colleagues are located, how can we be aware of their routines and training?

"We want the students to recognize that well-functioning teams and systems are not just a happy accident. They can be created using specific skills that we can learn and work together to apply.Ē

For more information on how to get involved in the UC HPEC team or Open School chapter, call (513) 558-8447 or e-mail

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