Ideas for interdisciplinary education flow at Synergy Social

Concrete ideas came forth as more than four dozen USF Health faculty moved from table to table planning how they could enhance inter-professional education across all USF Health colleges, schools and programs.


Nursing’s Dr. Rita D’Aoust adds to the USF Health conversation on IPE.

This was the USF Health Synergy Social Hour, held Jan. 21 in the Rotunda, an informal event used as a launching pad for pilot interdisciplinary projects.

Led by Donna J. Petersen, ScD, MHS, CPH, interim senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the USF College of Public Health, the two-hour session included both serious talk and some laughs, as faculty members introduced themselves and dove into the topic at hand: how are we teaching our students to be truly inter-disciplinary?

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Interim SVP Dr. Donna Petersen urges the group to be creative with their IPE ideas.

“Meet each other and talk about different ways we can do IPE more creatively, more robustly,” Dr. Petersen urged the group. “There is more inter-professional work already going on at USF Health than you might think. We’ve done a lot of good work. But we have to do more.”

IPE is about students from different disciplines and programs learning together and doing projects in teams, a practice that more closely emulates their future careers in which they will work in teams.

“The true practice of IPE is for the betterment of our students and ultimately the communities they will serve,” Dr. Petersen said.

Questions centered round key areas: professionalism and ethics; population health; service projects; community partnerships; teach it once; and faculty roles, responsibilities and rewards.


Pediatrician Dr. Bob Nelson helps form new ideas for IPE service projects.

Some conversations focused on current IPE activities with faculty sharing efforts that work well in their areas. But the urge was strong to come away with hard-and-fast projects that would propel IPE at USF Health further since “there is funding available for rock solid proposals by rock star IPE teams,” Dr. Petersen reminded the crowd.

Some comments about the evening include:

“It was very gratifying to see so many of my colleagues from the various colleges and schools at USF Health coming together to discuss inter-professional education. The synergy allowed me to share some of my ideas related to the development of research and teaching hubs that would allow professors and students to work together across disciplines.” — Karen D. Liller, PhD, professor and director of the USF Doctoral Student Leadership Institute in the Department of Community and Family Health, USF College of Public Health


“Quality, safety and value; all are critical components of the healthcare systems of the future.” – Kevin Sneed, PharmD, dean of the USF Health College of Pharmacy


“The USF Health Synergy event allowed me to share ideas and network with professionals that I had not previously collaborated with. Hearing other perspectives on challenges and solutions to the difficulties of IPE helped shape my perspective on IPE globally, and at USF. The experienced, forward-thinking people in the room certainly generated direction towards future IPE efforts at USF.” — Rebecca A. Edgeworth, PT, DPT, instructor in the USF Health School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences.