Interprofessional Collaboration Led by Health Professional Students: A Case Study of the Inter Health Professional Alliance at Virginia Commonwealth University

Lynn M. VanderWielen, Elizabeth K. Do, Hadja I. Diallo, Kristen N. LaCoe, Natalie L. Nguyen, Sonal A. Parikh, Helen Y. Rho, Alexander S. Enurah, Erika K. Dumke, Alan W. Dow


Background: Internationally recognized health experts have identified the need for an interdisciplinary approach to meet the healthcare needs of the 21st century, but academic institutions have been slow to take action. In response, eight health professional students at Virginia Commonwealth University developed a student-led organization, the Inter Health Professionals Alliance (IHPA), to foster a collaborative, interdisciplinary environment among health professional students.

Methods and Findings: The eight students utilized a participatory action research approach to identify 1) an understanding behind the motivation for developing IHPA and 2) the core benefits of group involvement. Four benefits were identified: the development of knowledge and skills, interprofessional networks, professional competence, and role clarity. The case study demonstrated that students can engage in interdisciplinary collaboration from a student-initiated approach and likely improve the care of future patients. Drawing on personal experiences, IHPA board members outline five pieces of wisdom to aid fellow students in the development of student-led interdisciplinary organizations.

Conclusions: With enthusiasm and support, students can transform their educational experiences to meet the healthcare needs of the twenty-first century.


Interprofessional healthcare; Participatory action research (PAR); Professional education; Healthcare professionals

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