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Interprofessional practice, diversity initiatives to enhance healthcare in Ohio

By Jay A. Gershen D.D.S., Ph.D.

Sergio Garcia, Jay Gershen, Joxel GarciaIn June 2013, The Sullivan Alliance to Transform the Health Professions, in partnership with Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) and with the generous support of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, convened a conference to showcase best practices to advance diversity, interprofessional education and practice in healthcare through pipeline-to-practice efforts in Ohio. I’m proud to share a copy of the recently published conference report, which can also be found on the Ohio Alliance website.

Attendees were leaders and stakeholders representing Ohio-based academic institutions, the business and political communities, and other community entities that in some way shared interests in advancing educational pathways leading to and improving the healthcare workforce in Ohio.

The conference report highlights four themes that are critical to the development of The Sullivan Alliance, the budding Ohio Alliance and the priorities of the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation. These themes were reflected in the conference’s plenary sessions, panel presentations and working group discussions:

  • Middle school to pre-professional pathway programs: Programs and best practices that are designed to attract middle, high school and undergraduate students from diverse, educationally and economically disadvantaged backgrounds to healthcare careers.
  • Innovative interprofessional training pathways: Curriculum at the pre-professional and professional school levels that focuses on programs in interprofessional healthcare team training, primary care, population health and social determinants of health, and encourages students to practice in urban and rural underserved areas.
    Attendees from Ohio Pipeline to Practice Conference
  • Diversity: Diversity becomes an essential aspect of the health professions training and healthcare delivery missions as the patient population in the U.S. becomes increasingly diverse. Demographic diversity in the healthcare workforce enhances the capacity of the healthcare system to reflect and effectively care for an increasingly diverse patient population.
  • Community engagement and resources: Initiatives that develop and strengthen the engagement of all Ohio communities are essential to composing a healthcare workforce that is reflective of and responsive to community healthcare needs. Mobilizing communities to become partners in sustaining and improving community health is crucial.

The conference outcomes ultimately prompted key stakeholders to further recognize how national imperatives and innovations translate to Ohio-based opportunities and challenges. The workgroup activities helped strengthen attendees understanding of how multiple Ohio-based interests could collaborate to improve the healthcare system and mutually advance multiple missions on that theme.

Dr. Sullivan, Marc Nivet, and Congressman Louis StokesThe combination of both the presentations and workgroup discussions served to fuel an action plan for developing the Ohio Alliance into a center of excellence. The Ohio Alliance will focus its near-term efforts on convening and focusing stakeholders on a collaborative approach to enhancing the healthcare system through interprofessional practice and diversity initiatives that span the continuum from pipeline to practice.

Clearly, the challenges and opportunities of our education and healthcare delivery systems were well considered by the participants at the conference. I encourage you to share this timely report with your colleagues.

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