Building a home for interprofessional health education
Jay Witherbee - September 6, 2013
What will it take to create a sustainable future for health care in Canada? Will Webster, dean of the Faculty of Health Professions, says health-care professionals with training and expertise that spans disciplines will be crucial.
“Interprofessional health education is all about students learning with, from and about one another to enhance quality of care, patient safety and health-care efficiency,” explains Dr. Webster.
“Back in 2002,” he continues, “the Romanow Report on the Future of Health Care in Canada noted that if health-care providers are expected to work together and share expertise in a team environment, it makes sense that their education and training should prepare them for this type of working arrangement.”
Dal’s Faculties of Medicine, Health Professions and Dentistry have introduced a number of highly successful interprofessional initiatives to the curriculum in recent years. However, what’s lacking is lab and classroom spaces to bring those students together. In fact, a number of programs in those Faculties are spread across Dal’s campuses and the city of Halifax — many in spaces that are leased, not owned, by the university.
A space to build connections
That’s where the Collaborative Health Education Building comes in. The new building, located on the corner of University Avenue and Summer Street, will provide shared classrooms, skills labs, a learning commons and a simulation centre for students from Dal’s health-care Faculties.
Rather than separating students from different disciplines into their own spaces, the building is designed to support teaching and learning the skills, knowledge and attitudes required to work effectively as part of collaborative health-care teams. Students will have opportunities to rub shoulders with one another both in and out of the classroom, getting to know, understand and respect one another and their professions — key ingredients for effective communication and collaboration.
Dalhousie’s President Richard Florizone sees interprofessional health education as part of a broader, long-term trend.
"This approach to health education will train our doctors, nurses and other health professionals to work better together as a team, which means better diagnoses, better treatment, and ultimately better outcomes for patients in Nova Scotia – or anywhere our students practice," he says.
Combined, the Faculties of Medicine, Health Professions and Dentistry represent more than 20 different health professional programs, preparing roughly 3,000 students to enter practice.
Site prep starts next month
The new five storey, 106,000 square-foot building will be connected to the Life Sciences Research Institute, which opened its doors in 2011. On Thursday, the province committed $10 million over a 15-year period toward construction and ongoing operation of the building.
The total budget for the project is $43.5 million ($35 million for construction of the building, $3.5 million for the purchase of specialized equipment, and $5 million to repair vacated space as part of the repatriation process).
Dalhousie Vice President Finance and Administration Ken Burt says debt payments for the building will be offset by lease cost savings.
"It's like we're moving from a number of different apartments into our own home. The rent we are currently paying our landlords will be used toward our mortgage.”
The Collaborative Health Education Building will be the first major project for Dalhousie’s new assistant vice-president, construction, Peter Coutts.
He says architectural firm Barrie & Langille of Halifax have designed a building that is flexible, can accommodate multi-use, and is a model of accessibility.
Coutts is especially excited that the project includes a much needed learning commons for the Carleton campus.
“We’re taking direction from the Campus Master Plan, which calls for a space for students, staff and faculty to come together, socialize and exchange ideas beyond the classroom.”
Site prep work on the Collaborative Health Education Building is set to begin in early October. Construction is scheduled to begin in March 2014, with the building expected to welcome its first students in September 2015.
Learn more: Campus Development website
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