Pharmacy, Natural & Health Sciences

Core Competencies

Sarah Gordon, Pharm,D., Prepares Students for Interprofessional Practice

Preparing students for interprofessional practice

In concert with other health professions, Manchester Pharmacy prepares future pharmacy practitioners by intertwining education, practice and professionalism to form a competency cornerstone. Its pharmacy curriculum has been enriched through interprofessional education, or IPE, since its first class enrolled in 2012.

Sarah Gordon, Pharm.D., an associate professor of pharmacy practice, cites the definition of IPE as opportunities when students from two or more professions learn with, about, and from each other.

“Teaching students in different health care professions together helps them learn the roles and responsibilities for all members of the care team, so that when they graduate and are practicing, their teams are more efficient,” said Gordon, who serves as the first interprofessional education coordinator for the program.

Following the Interprofessional Education Collaborative framework for patient-centered practice, IPE embraces four core competencies in pharmacy education: 1) Values/Ethics for Interprofessional Practice, 2) Roles/Responsibilities, 3) Interprofessional Communication, and 4) Teams and Teamwork.

In 2011, health care educators at Manchester University and other area universities established the Fort Wayne Area Interprofessional Education Consortium. The educators believed that students in different health profession settings would benefit from shared learning experiences, since they would be working together in practice.

“They start with an introduction of interprofessional education, where students each describe their own professions, roles and responsibilities, education and background, and details about their degree program,” explains Gordon. “There is also a medical-error communication activity, and one we call, ‘Clinical Conundrums’ where students review difficult patient cases. In this activity, they discuss values and ethics, and treatment plans that accommodate cultural differences or disability, for instance.”

Serving as president of the consortium since 2020, Gordon said Manchester pharmacy and athletic training students currently work with graduate health care students from other institutions, such as physician assistant, nurse practitioner, physical therapy and occupational therapy students. This year, speech language pathology students also will be joining, Gordon said.

By 2016, interprofessional education was more than just a good idea – it became a standard in pharmacy education called for by the profession’s accreditation body, ACPE.

“Seated in those standards is to have our students work with prescribers,” said Gordon. “We partner with several area universities training students in prescriber roles, such as physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. Through various programs, our students have opportunities to participate in IPE learning activities along with these students.”

Over the past decade, Manchester Pharmacy added a variety of IPEspecific events within the curriculum and co-curriculum. These events are offered both within and outside of required coursework, Gordon said.

But, beginning in 2022, Gordon’s work in developing Manchester’s IPE programming will reflect an improved model – one that embeds relevant IPE activities within specific courses to better streamline student learning. This new approach will seamlessly tether rigorous academic instruction to a related IPE learning experience, simplifying the process for students in fulfilling their requirements, Gordon said.

Gordon, a board-certified pharmacotherapy specialist, also supervises pharmacy students on rotations at her clinical practice at Dupont Hospital. She receives consultation requests from nursing staff, termed “geriatric navigators,” who provide care for senior patients in the emergency department.

“I review the medications of older adult patients, to make sure they are on the optimal regimen and that they are educated on their medications, including any changes to medications,” Gordon said.

Though nursing students from other programs also complete their internships at Dupont, planned interprofessional experiences for pharmacy and nursing students are not currently available at Gordon’s clinical site. Manchester students do interact and work with other health profession students during many of their clinical rotations, she said.

“Interprofessional education in the clinical setting is generally a new concept and scheduling in this setting is quite challenging – but we will get there,” Gordon said.

By re-architecting her programming, Gordon is taking a long view in how Manchester prepares students as skilled future pharmacy practitioners who work as part of a multi-professional team.

“Through interactive engagement in IPE activities, we help our students to see firsthand the importance of their collaborative work with other health professionals – which ultimately will improve patient care and outcomes,” Gordon said.