Blog Article: Lessons Learned from the Development of an Annual Multi-Institutional Interprofessional Service Learning Health Expo

By | 12th February 2016
Lessons Learned from the Development of an Annual Multi-Institutional Interprofessional Service Learning Health Expo
Raymond Higbea (1), Jodie Elder (2); Katie Branch (1)
(1) Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
(2) Ferris State University, Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
To ensure that tomorrow’s healthcare professionals are prepared for and empowered to make future practice integration changestoday’s healthcare students must not only be witnesses to the benefits of interprofessional practice, but well versed in working within an interprofessional framework prior to graduation (World Health Organization 1998). The Midwest Interprofessional Practice, Education, and Research Center (MIPERC) founded in the fall of 2007 by Grand Valley State University, Grand Rapids Medical Education Partners, and Michigan State University College of Human Medicine is committed to educating health professionals by providing experiences in the development of skills in collaboration, communication, and team work that supports patient centered quality care.  
MIPERC’s mission is to identify ways that educational and practice partnerships can be developed to include: collaborative, innovative, and interprofessional initiatives across professions, learning institutions, and healthcare systems. The foundation of the MIPERC interprofessional education (IPE) model includes the Institute of Medicine’s (2001) core competencies of patient centered care, evidence-based practice, quality improvement, the use of informatics, and interprofessional teams. MIPERC has built its working infrastructure around six champion workgroups: clinical setting; curriculum; professionaldevelopment; scholarship; service-learningand simulation to assist with refinement and implementation of the model.  Participation in a workgroup is voluntary and open to any area faculty, staff, or community healthcare professional.

During the 2013 fall semester MIPERC Service-learning workgroup began planning for the workgroups primary service learning event for the academic year.  Students from the MIPERC’s student organization Promoting Interprofessional Education for Students (PIPES) were surveyed for interest and willingness to participate in an interprofessional community health fair in the spring of 2014.  PIPES students were also asked to choose a target population of interest.  Eighty-one percent of those surveyed (26/32) reported an interest and willingness to participate in an interprofessional community health fair.
Based upon survey feedback, the first MIPERC service-learning interprofessional health fair service learning experience was planned by the workgroup for March 2014.  Target populationfor the health fair was families with topical categories: healthy travel, healthy lifestyles, healthy sports and recreation, and success in school.  
Due to the success of the first multi-institutional interprofessional health fair (2014), the MIPERC Service-learning workgroup continued with the planning and execution of a second (2015) and third (2016) interprofessional health expo.  The word, “fair” was replace with word, “expo” in 2015 with the purposeful intention of drawing additional interest in participation.
Routine planning methods were employed to prepare for the fair/expo including: conducting a needs assessment; recruitment of faculty advisors, community advisors, and staff; recruitment of students; development of student support and incentives; development of health fair/expo theme; event planning activities, e.g., choosing a date, securing a site, and various logistical activities; and development of event evaluation and learning outcome assessment
Due to the report nature of this manuscript, it was not submitted to the Grand Valley State University Human Research Review Committee for review.  The evaluation and assessment for the 2015 health expo was submitted to the Grand Valley State University Human Research Review Board and received exempt status due to its lack of any personal identifying information. 

Currently, the program evaluation and assessment is under review of the Grand Valley State University Human Research Review Board for exempt status.
Results & Discussion
The first two years have produced the following results (year 3 results are pending): increased student participation (tripled); increased faculty advisor participation (tripled); increased university participation (quadrupled); and positive survey results indicating a high level of health fair/expo participant learning.
Planning and executing a multi-institutional interprofessional health expo can be challenging.  It is recommended institutions that seek to create a similar experience in their community: (1) start planning and recruiting early; (2) define goals, objectives, target audience, and theme of each year’s expo; (3) place student in teams based on topic of interest and education level; (4) keep student teams to a maximum of five student and a minimum of one faculty advisor; (5) obtain funding for the development of student exhibits; (6) provide advisor and student IPE trainingonline including role expectations and timelines; (7) obtain IRB approval early; and (8) give credit for service learning via a certificate of participation.
The planning trend with this event has been simplification and standardization.  This event has simplified its planning process based on previous experience and has as a result of these experiences simplified its target audience to college students on the university’s main campus, simplified it themes from a collection of topics to standardized dimensions of student wellness, and moved from an event that included speakers and project displays to only project displays.  Standardization activities have included training and recruitment of faculty advisors, theme development, student support, service learning certificate, and learning assessment.

Patient care models are moving from profession-specific provision of physician directed patient care to patient centric care delivered by interprofessional teams.  Due to this shift, it is imperative that today’s healthcare students learn how to deliver effective patient care from narrow lens of their profession and the broad lens of a team.  It is through events such as such this interprofessional service learning event that students will begin to develop team based skills, learn their role in a team, and begin to develop an understanding of what others have to offer patients through a team based delivery of care.  Activities such as this servicelearning event and other similar activities will allow student to succeed within these emerging practice models.  It is the responsibility for those of us training these students to move beyond our professional silos and provide students with interprofessional events that will prepare them to develop the skills necessary to become team-based practitioners of patient care delivery.
World Health Organization (1988) Learning Together to Work Together. Geneva: WHO.
Institute of Medicine (2001) Committee on Quality of Health Care in America, editor. Crossing the Quality Chasm: a new health system for the 21st century. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Contact: Raymond Higbea (