U-M Schools of Nursing and Medicine Partner to Expand Care at Free Clinic

The schools will use a new grant to improve interprofessional education and increase care for a local community.

The University of Michigan School of Nursing (UMSN) answered the call to accelerate the development of a creative and interprofessional initiative. UMSN was one of 16 nursing schools selected by The National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education to lead programs in which graduate nursing students and students from other health professions will work together in community-based clinical settings.

Dr. Eagle with med studentsUMSN students and faculty will join U-M Medical School faculty and medical students currently operating the Student-Run Free Clinic (SRFC) in Pinckney, MI on this initiative. Established in 2012, the clinic offers free care every Saturday afternoon to uninsured and underserved residents of rural Livingston County and surrounding areas. The medical students, nurse practitioner students, nurse practitioners and physicians will work together to provide care, learning in the process how to become collaborative, efficient teams.

Group Table Consult“This grant opportunity allows students and faculty from the School of Nursing and Medical School to put the elements of interprofessional education (IPE) and team-based care into action in a real time clinical situations,” says Lisa Kane Low, PhD, CNM, FACNM, FAAN, associate dean for Practice and Professional Graduate Programs at UMSN. She will serve as the principal investigator on the grant. “This funding will also allow us to offer more days per week that community members can receive services.”

Student examines patientThe nursing students joining the clinic efforts will be from UMSN’s Primary Care Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN) graduate programs. In addition, UMSN APRN faculty member, Megan Eagle, MSN, MPH, FNP-BC, will be embedded into the site to provide leadership for the initiation of the plan, including expanding access for community members by adding Wednesdays as clinical days. All of the clinical days will have varied opportunities for IPE experiences.

“This grant helps us move classroom IPE to the level of clinical practice,” said UMSN Clinical Assistant Professor Michelle Pardee, DNP, FNP-BC, a key contributor to the project and leader in IPE education at the Michigan Center for Interprofessional Education. “This step is critical to ensure graduates will have the skills needed to impact healthcare delivery.”

The project reflects U-M’s strong and growing commitment to IPE. In 2015, U-M established the Michigan Center for Interprofessional Education to transform the way more than 4,000 health profession students are educated across the three U-M campuses. The 2nd annual student and faculty interprofessional town hall will be held Oct. 20, 2016, and is open to all interested. 

Student-Run Free Clinic Staff and Faculty

“Having nurses and nursing students as partners in the clinic will not only help us to improve patient care and expand capacity, but it will also enrich the learning experience of all health professions students who volunteer at the clinic,” says Jacob Cedarbaum, a U-M medical student and co-leader of the SRFC. “Our team is incredibly excited to embark on the unique, interprofessional collaboration that this grant will support.”

UMSN is also making changes to curriculum to bolster IPE efforts. For example, all students in the APRN program are now required to complete an IPE course with other health professional students in team-based clinical decision making. Other programs have similar requirements and there are a growing number of IPE electives available for students.

There will be many upcoming opportunities for nursing students to volunteer at the clinic. If you're interested in learning more, please email Megan Eagle

This project received support from the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education at the University of Minnesota and was funded through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the John A. Hartford Foundation, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.