Teaching tomorrow's health professionals

Graduating Emory students

Learning as part of an interprofessional team helps prepare our students to think creatively, interact more effectively with each other, and serve patients better.

Interprofessional education and collaborative practice (IPE/CP) is a key goal of the Woodruff Health Science Center (WHSC), a reflection of IPE/CP's growing importance nationwide to help deal with struggles in population health, an aging population, and a shortage of providers.

Following are examples of how IPE/CP is changing teaching and practice:

The WHSC has been holding annual interprofessional team training days for first-year medical and nursing students since 2007, but last year the event was expanded to include students in public health and in the physician assistant, physical therapist, anesthesia assistant, and genetic counseling programs, raising attendance from 500 to 1,200 students. A team of nurses, residents, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, and others practiced different scenarios on a simulation mannequin. In one case, team members were devastated when they lost the “patient” to hemorrhagic shock but then got the chance to review the case and improve the outcome as they worked better in concert with one another.

The expanded team training day came on the heels of the first-ever symposium of the Woodruff Health Educators Academy (WHEA), also initiated last year. The WHEA offers an annual teaching fellowship for WHSC educators, a monthly journal club, a “teaching hack” speaker series, and an educators “salon,” all to enhance teaching skills of faculty.

Also new is the recently established IPE/CP Synergy Award, offered to expand innovations that foster relationships across WHSC schools and programs, with focus on curricula and/or student experience, models of care and/or clinical practice, simulation, and community-based care.

Perhaps the best indication of IPE/CP’s potential for improving education in the health professions can be seen in efforts of students themselves. Students from medicine, nursing, public health, and law recently tried to curb health care costs by creating the Interprofessional Student Hotspotting Learning Collaborative, the Atlanta affiliate of a national initiative. Student teams target medically and socially complex patients who constitute 5% of Grady Hospital’s patients but account for 50% of its health care costs—the “hot spots.” The teams help these patients manage their conditions to keep them out of the ER and the hospital.


Students and trainees in health sciences:

Emory University School of Medicine

■ 582 medical students, including 92 MD/PhD student

■ 1,322 residents and fellows

■ 522 students in allied health training, such as physical therapy and physician assistant programs

Rollins School of Public Health

■ 1,203 master’s and 179 PhD students

Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing

■ 553 bachelor’s, 318 master’s, 27 PhD students, 100 DNP student



■ The Woodruff Health Sciences Center invested 23.7% of its tuition income last year in financial aid for its students, an amount totaling $29.2 million.

■ Emory Healthcare provided $104.6 million to support teaching and research missions in the Woodruff Health Sciences Center in fiscal year 2018-2019.