Students from across Sargent collaborate in the innovative interprofessional education program. Photo by Dave Green

It’s a fall day, and 12 students from three Sargent College programs are bustling about a kitchen, helping people with a language disorder enjoy one of life’s simpler joys: cooking.

The students—from the speech–language pathology, nutrition, and occupational therapy programs—discussed balanced diets, pored over recipes, and introduced adaptive cooking equipment tailored to the needs of clients with aphasia. This is one of several cocurricular interprofessional education (IPE) opportunities that complement Sargent’s curriculum, enabling students from five disciplines—occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech-language pathology, nutrition, and athletic training—to learn from and about each other.

“In healthcare we are largely working in teams, and health issues are quite complex,” says Craig Slater, a clinical assistant professor and director for interprofessional education and practice. “There’s not one profession that usually can meet all of a patient or client’s needs,” Slater says. “We can introduce students to each other’s disciplines and familiarize them with their colleagues’ scope of practice.”

Interprofessional education is relatively new, Slater says, having first emerged 20 years ago and achieved prominence in the last 10. Accrediting bodies are increasingly interested in students with interprofessional education experience; many require it.

Sargent’s program, which began in 2017, involves online and face-to-face module learning, as well as guest speakers, case studies, simulations, and cocurricular activities.

The end result of the fall 2018 cooking session? Guacamole, quesadillas, chicken salad, and a clinical intervention that harnessed the best of each student’s chosen profession.

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