The Stone Family Center for Health Sciences in Evansville is officially open for business. This new education and healthcare building in downtown Evansville, Indiana was dedicated at the Old National Events Plaza in a ceremony on Thursday, August 10.

The interdisciplinary medical education and research center will offer the most advanced technologies to educate and train future generations of physicians, dentists, nurses, health science researchers, and other health care providers. The signature element of the campus will be a 30,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art simulation center where advanced technologies will be tested and used in combination with training, research, and potential product development. This facility is the largest simulation center in Indiana other than Fairbanks Hall in Indianapolis. The center will also house the administrative offices of the graduate medical education consortium made up of Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes, Memorial Hospital and Healthcare Center in Jasper, Deaconess Health System in Evansville, and St. Vincent, also in Evansville.

IU IPE Center is proud to collaborate with the Evansville health sciences education community to use the new space to facilitate interprofessional collaboration. According to Dr. Mike Roscoe, Director and Chair of the University of Evansville Physician Assistant Science program, and Ms. Gina Niemeier, Associate Program Chair and Physician Assistant Program Clinical Coordinator, there is much excitement surrounding the opening. “A goal is to include learners from other professions beyond physician assistants and medicine, such as nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, social work, and even dentistry, particularly with the recent emphasis on the oral-systemic health connection,” said Roscoe. “All health professionals are understanding that patient outcomes are improved through effective collaborative care, and this practice model can benefit providers as well,” added Niemeier.

Dr. Roger Shinnerl, Course Director for IU School of Medicine-Evansville, added that interprofessional collaborative practice represents “a positive shift in the healthcare team dynamic, which can lead to a reduction in medical errors and improved patient safety.” Both Roscoe and Niemeier are looking forward to opportunities that the new facility will bring for learners to learn about, from, and with each other. Currently, the two, who serve as instructors for the IU School of Medicine-Evansville Foundations of Clinical Practice, work closely with Dr. Shinnerl to provide interprofessional learning activities for their students.

In January 2018, IU School of Medicine and University of Evansville faculty collaborated with the IU Interprofessional Practice and Education Center to bring Team Education Advancing Collaborative Health (TEACH!) to Evansville medical and physician assistant learners. The event was well-received as students appreciated the enthusiasm for interprofessional practice and education and the personal experiences shared by Ms. Niemeier and Drs. Roscoe and Shinnerl. The faculty agreed that it is important to introduce interprofessional practice concepts and bring learners from different professions together early in their respective educational programs so they can understand the benefits of team health. Ms. Niemeier noted that this can be difficult, especially in the preclinical years, and so they look forward to further growth creating more interprofessional learning opportunities that involve additional community partners.

Currently, the University of Evansville Physician Assistant program offers a two-week community-based interprofessional rotation where learners in their last year observe and learn about the scope of practice and clinical operations of local non-PA, DO, or MD practitioners. “The lack of interprofessional collaborative practice is a significant problem in healthcare, particularly among physicians as they tend to underutilize team resources, so it’s extremely important the next generation of physicians be engaged in interprofessional collaborative practice,” said Shinnerl.

The IU School of Medicine-Evansville has moved to the new campus and, the IU School of Dentistry will offer training for dental residents and fourth-year dental students by operating a public clinic at the new Evansville campus.

Lisa Lenz and Laura Romito, DDS and Assistant Dean of the Interprofessional Practice and Education Center contributed to this story.

Photo: Isaiah Seibert, WNIN