Advancing Health Equity Through Interprofessional Ethics Education

Monday, August 22, 2022, 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm CDT

The importance of interprofessional education in ethics and health equity has become increasingly relevant as caring for patients becomes more complex and often involves care across professions and specialties. Rarely as healthcare professionals do we make decisions in isolation. Developing a shared framework for approaching ethical and health equity issues across professions is critical to prepare the next generation of health professionals and address the complex health care issues of society. The University of Colorado’s Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education (CUCIPE) prepares graduates for the collaborative interprofessional healthcare workforce and delivers a longitudinal curriculum to provide students foundational knowledge prior to transitioning to academic and community-based clinical practice environments. Healthcare education often places emphasis on the individual patient-provider level. However, we know that collaborative care across professions is essential in improving patient outcomes. Additionally, we know that upstream factors, outside of patient-healthcare team interactions, shape health and illness and are key sources of health inequities, poor health outcomes and ethical dilemmas for healthcare teams.

CUCIPE engaged in curriculum reform to meet the needs of learners facing these increasingly complex problems in ethics and health equity. CUCIPE piloted the Interprofessional Healthcare Ethics and Health Equity (IPHE) course in Fall 2021. For our unfolding case study, we focused on the stigmatized diagnoses of substance use and mental health situated within the larger context of the opiate epidemic. These are realities commonly encountered by all health professions and provide students with an opportunity to recognize and respond to issues of ethics and health equity from individual, interpersonal, organizational, and structural levels. We incorporated a structural competency framework (Metzl & Hanson, 2014) to assist students in identifying and responding to social, economic, and political sources of ethical issues related to justice, inequity, bias, and health disparities. Using a hybrid design of online modules and synchronous Zoom sessions, students engaged in ethical analysis, decision-making, and interprofessional collaboration to inspire advocacy and action for an equitable health system. CUCIPE enrolled 848 students from Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Physician Assistant, and Physical Therapy programs divided into 100 interprofessional teams which were led by 50 facilitators from the campus and community, representing healthcare, law, ethics, and philosophy.

During this seminar, we will review strategies for curriculum design, case study development, integration of structural competency concepts, pedagogical tools, and implementation lessons learned following the pilot. We will review quantitative and qualitative data. Participants will be provided with an example of an unfolding case study and will engage in the development of additional case studies for use in their own educational settings.

After attending this seminar, the learner will be able to:
1. Implement a structural competency framework within interprofessional healthcare ethics and health equity education.
2. Utilize an unfolding case study to demonstrate how individual, interpersonal, organizational, and structural factors impact patient outcomes.
3. Generate and access a shared bank of interprofessional ethics and equity case study examples that can be employed or adapted for attendees’ teaching needs.