History of Our Program

The OUHSC College Deans, Senior Officers, and Provosts have supported the development and implementation of interdisciplinary and interprofessional programs for over 30 years. This has included interdisciplinary work such as the Center on Child Abuse and Neglect (CCAN) program, Oklahoma Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (OKLEND) program, and the OU Tulsa Bedlam Clinic. In 2010, the World Health Organization put forward the Framework for Action on Interprofessional Education & Collaborative Practice and in 2011 the initial Core Competencies for Interprofessional Collaborative Practice were published by the Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC).


In 2012, Dr. Peggy Wisdom, with the Wisdom Family Foundation, provided support to evaluate the need and the feasibility of OUHSC developing a formal interprofessional education program for health professions students. A core group of faculty volunteered to engage in the creation of current interdisciplinary initiatives.

The initial pilot clinically-focused program was called EPIC (Empowering Patients Through Interprofessional Collaboration) which allowed 80 students from the 6 OUHSC Colleges and the OU Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work to deliver supervised student-provided patient care at the Good Shepherd Community Clinic in Oklahoma City. EPIC programming continues to be available under the Unity Clinic experience as part of our two-year curriculum plan to provide experiential immersion to advanced learners.


In order to expand the interprofessional education opportunity to more students, All Professions Day was developed in 2015. APD programming is now available virtually to all first-year health sciences learners and is intended as the first didactic exposure to the IPEC Core Competencies.


The initiative was soon offered a home in the Office of Interdisciplinary Programs (OIDP), within the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs & Faculty Development. This move demonstrated the commitment of OUHSC administration and leadership to support interprofessional programming. Following a retreat hosted by the Vice Provost in 2017, the loosely formed core faculty reorganized and named the volunteer group the Interprofessional Educators & Practitioners Association (IEPA). IEPA established three working committees: Curriculum, Faculty Development, and Research. Later in the year, a Regents approved mandatory university fee was instituted to provide budgetary support for the continued development, implementation and evaluation of interdisciplinary learning opportunities for HSC students.


In 2018 the IEPA Curriculum Committee launched a strategic plan to build a two-year curriculum plan including core programming committed to the development and expansion of a comprehensive, cohesive, and competency-driven menu of interdisciplinary learning experiences for every student at every level. The IEPA also added a Student-Faculty Committee charged with developing student-led initiatives.   The initial review process included: 

  • Inventory of each participating program's requirements
  • A review of accreditation standards. Twenty-four participating degree programs across 8 colleges (including Social Work at OU-Norman) include 16 different accreditation standards, each requiring interprofessional education and practice experiences for learners prior to graduation.
  • A short review of other Peer Institutions
  • A survey of the literature
  • An inventory of learning spaces for in-person content delivery
  • Compilation of learning materials including syllabi and clinic manuals

This data was compiled to draft a competency framework aligning the IPEC Core Competencies to the accreditation requirements and programmatic needs. The result was a proposal to strategically develop a two-year, transformative curriculum that was/included:

  • Competency-driven
  • Content applicable to the accreditation standards of our partnering programs
  • A core experience that could be complemented by departmental coursework
  • Inclusive of non-clinical learners by focusing on teams and teamwork
  • Delivered using a variety of instructional methods
  • Structured to facilitate future expansion and development

As part of the OUHSC Academic Strategic Plan, there was a concurrent campus-wide initiative to enhance related faculty capacity building for interdisciplinary/interprofessional education. Noteworthy developments included:

  • Wisdom Family Foundation Interprofessional Education Research Seed Grants were estabilished to support an annual request for proposals describing faculty designed pilot learning programs. These pilot projects enable continued support for faculty innovation while adding new curriculum relevant to the IPE and team science competencies/principles.
  • The Unity Clinic pilot was implemented as an updated version of the IPE Clinical Experience. The term “Unity Clinic” was selected by students to refer to team-based collaboration that occurs in the clinical experience.  

Challenges and Successes

The COVID pandemic posed academic challenges to maintain the quality delivery of educational programming the IEPA had worked for the past few years to build. Through use of technology, our teams were able to not only maintain the majority of the menu options, but expand enrollment to additional students and expand activities to engage students at the Tulsa, Norman, and Lawton campuses. Our teams effectively learned to use online classroom spaces, virtual simulations, and telehealth equipment. 

Noteworthy was our teams’ readiness to assist with the pandemic response. Early in 2020, our teams participated in online COVID training. This baseline didactic content prepared learners to work on the front lines with the Oklahoma State Department of Health. Later, as the vaccines were released, our teams were engaged on the frontlines with OU Health to assist with community vaccination pods. Our teams assisted the campus community in the deliverance of over 50,000 vaccine doses, to over 11% of Oklahoma county’s residents. Their work was recognized with the 2021 George E. Thibault, MD NEXUS Award.Read the 2020-21 Annual Report for additional details.

A Focus on Community and Inclusion

Community engagement has been a foundational concern for OIDP and IEPA. We have maintained a strong partnership with Good Shepherd Clinic since 2012. This partnership allows our IPE learners to gain hands-on, team-based experience while improving access to care, addressing social determinants of health, and addressing health disparities in Oklahoma County.  Our focus on the community is also highlighted in our community-engaged simulations. Our SAME/FAME: Self-Advocates-as-Medical-Educators/Family-Advocates-as-Medical-Educators, and our 2S-LGBTQ+ simulation engage community members with real-life experience as the standardized patient and team participant. This unique experience lets our student teams practice team communication skills with other professionals while understanding the unique circumstances of patients from these communities.  The Social Determinants of Health/Health Literacy Simulation allows learners to consider hospital discharge needs with the patient included as team-member.

Unity Clinic greatly increased their capacity in 2021-2022. Mostly due to their work in COVID vaccine outreach, Unity collaborated with dozens of community groups throughout the Oklahoma City metropolitan area. This included faith-based organizations, food resource centers, community development agencies, and public schools. These partnerships provided additional rotation slots for our increasing student enrollment while expanding exposure for learners to diverse communities in mutually beneficial programming.  In total, OIDP delivered programming to well over 2,000 learners in the 2021-2022 academic year. 

Preparing for the Next 5 Years

In the years ahead, we look forward to launching additional collaborations such as the Bridges to Access Symposium. We will be establishing new community partnerships through Unity Clinic Mobile Outreach with the intent of visiting each quadrant of the state.  We look forward to continued growth with all of our campus stakeholders and community partners in preparing the team-ready healthcare workforce of tomorrow.

Role of Accreditation

  • Twenty-four participating degree programs across 8 colleges (including Social Work at OU-Norman) include 16 different accreditation standards, each requiring interprofessional education and practice experiences for learners prior to graduation.
  • Accreditation requirements necessitate program expansion to deliver programming to every student at every level.