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Social Work Plays Key Role in Interprofessional Education Event

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School of Social Work faculty members and students played a key role in the first interprofessional education program held at UCF's College of Medicine. The event was held Dec. 10-11.

Master of Social Work students and first-year medical students from UCF and first-year pharmacy students from the University of Florida sat side-by-side for workshops on homelessness and health in an interdisciplinary approach to education conceived by the World Health Organization.

According to WHO, "Interprofessional education occurs when students from two or more professionals learn about, from and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes." A goal is to prepare students to enter the workforce as a member of a collaborative team.

This approach has become a requirement for accreditation for certain health professions' schools, especially medical schools, said social work Professor Mary Ann Burg, who helped design the program in collaboration with Dr. Judy Simms-Cendan, coordinator of interdisciplinary education for UCF's College of Medicine. The two had collaborated on a similar program at UF's College of Medicine.

At the UCF event, students gathered for four hours each day to listen to presentations and participate in group exercises. They heard from faculty members and a community leader.

For example, Burg spoke to the group about homelessness in the United States and primary health problems of the homeless. Bakari Burns, chief executive officer of Health Care for the Homeless, discussed the situation close to home. His organization is an interdisciplinary primary care clinic housed in the Florida Department of Health in Orange County.

"After the presentations, the students were divided into small interdisciplinary groups to work on a case of a homeless family and to develop a legislative proposal for advocating for health care needs of homeless families," Burg said.

Other participants from the School of Social Work included Associate Professors Denise Gammonley and Shawn Lawrence; Instructors Mary Dillon, Mary Mann and Maralee Walsh; and Instructor and Field Education Coordinator Jacqueline Withers.

Burg said the event was very successful.

"We had many students tell us that they enjoyed it, and that they learned a lot about health care resources and gaps in health care for the homeless," she shared. "The medical and pharmacy students were especially glad to have our social work students participate and asked that there be more social work students at the future events."

The College of Medicine's organizing faculty has already asked that social work faculty be involved in future interprofessional events, she added.

View welcome remarks by Michael Frumkin, dean of the College of Health and Public Affairs, aired at the beginning of the event.

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