Increasing Interprofessional Education Offerings Through a University-wide Seed Grant Program
The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio emphasizes interprofessional education (IPE) among our strategic educational priorities. This is exemplified by our Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) for institutional accreditation, Linking Interprofessional Networks for Collaboration (LINC) - created to cultivate IPE knowledge and skills of faculty, students, and staff and to integrate IPE activities into programs’ curricula with increasing opportunities for student IPE experiences.
Members of the LINC Faculty Council (the Council), one from each school (dentistry, graduate biomedical sciences, health professions, medicine, and nursing), have been endorsed by their Deans and empowered to achieve QEP goals. To encourage faculty to develop novel IPE activities and to promote IPE research and scholarship, the Council created the LINC Seed Grant Program. To date, the Council has distributed two university-wide requests for applications (RFAs): one in 2018 that funded a cohort for 2019-2020 and another in 2019 that funded a cohort for 2020-2021.
These RFAs have resulted in 23 proposal submissions, 12 of which have been awarded. According to mid-term reports from the 2019-2020 cohort, funded projects have already begun to bear fruit. Not only have LINC-funded projects produced more student IPE learning experiences, but some are beginning to become formally integrated into curricula. Moreover, LINC investigators have been invited to present results at two prestigious conferences: the annual University of Texas System Shine Academy conference and the Southern Nursing Research Society Annual Conference, representing state and regional honors, respectively.
The Council learned important lessons from the 2019-2020 funding cycle and incorporated several improvements into the second iteration of the program. These included expanding the RFA, clarifying desired project outcomes, increasing the maximum award amount by 25%, and supporting faculty during project development and grant writing. Two workshops clarified expectations of IPE projects and resulted in improved proposals. Projects awarded in the 2020-2021 funding cycle demonstrated greater concordance with core competencies for interprofessional collaborative practice, finer understanding of IPE, and stronger assessment strategies for learner and project outcomes. The Council anticipates further integration of funded projects into curricula, as well as dissemination efforts by LINC investigators. An IPE writing workshop to support the latter will begin in summer 2020.