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Allied Health professionals have been on the forefront of interprofessional education and practice for decades. This has been especially evident during the COVID-19 pandemic, as UNC students have mobilized to serve their communities. This is one reason why the UNC Department of Allied Health Sciences has received a national award of excellence for its interprofessional work.

CHAPEL HILL, NC – The UNC Department of Allied Health Sciences in the UNC School of Medicine has received the 2021 Association of Schools Advancing Health Professions (ASAHP) Award for Institutional Excellence and Innovation in Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Health Care.

Interprofessional education involves students from two or more health or social care professions learning together during their professional training. The objective of this collaboration is to cultivate a more unified care delivery system that achieves better outcomes for patients. The UNC Office of Interprofessional Education and Practice (OIPEP) was created in 2018 after years of grassroots efforts to improve communication and collaboration among Carolina’s health care professions schools — the schools of nursing, medicine, dentistry, public health, social work, pharmacy and the department of allied health.

“Many faculty, staff and students in our department have worked tirelessly to build our interprofessional education (IPE) program and are appreciative of this recognition,” said Judy Schmidt, EdD, director of the Department of Allied Health Sciences Interprofessional Education and Practice. “Moving forward, we will focus on expanding our efforts to train health profession leaders in best practices of interprofessional education and collaborative practice to ensure the highest quality of care in communities across North Carolina.”

Each of the seven divisions within the UNC Department of Allied Health Sciences (DAHS) engages in a range of interprofessional activities across programs, schools and community settings. DAHS has developed innovative ways to assist during the COVID-19 pandemic, including physical therapy students assisting with mobility during the vaccine effort, physician assistant students helping to provide COVID-19 vaccines at the UNC Friday Center, clinical laboratory science students helping with COVID-19 testing, and a range of students volunteering to be a part of OIPEP’s Carolina Covid Student Services Corps. Here are examples of other recent and ongoing IPEP efforts unrelated to COVID-19:

  • Heels Prep – an interdisciplinary collaboration among the DAHS divisions of clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling and occupational therapy to provide a summer program to support young adults with intellectual disabilities transitioning to adulthood.
  • The upcoming launch of the inaugural RAM (Remote Area Medical) clinic in the state planned for Wilkesboro, NC. The RAM Clinic, funded by a private donor, will allow students and faculty from multiple schools and programs to offer free screening and medical services to eligible constituents in the rural county.
  • DAHS has been a founding partner in the Rural Interprofessional Health Initiative, in which over 150 interprofessional students have provided health care and completed quality improvement projects in nine rural counties across North Carolina.

DAHS has seen significant growth in its IPEP efforts. The ASAHP award is a testament to the department’s progress in building an innovative and sustainable model to advance IPEP within the department, university and greater community. Learn more about DAHS IPEP efforts here.