What is Interprofessional Education?


Last year when I volunteered at the Catholic Charities Wellness and Resource Fair, I met a lot of friendly UIW students from the other professional schools, but a pharmacy professor, Dr. Cynthia Nguyen, taught me something that has stuck with me ever since. Dr. Nguyen told me about Interprofessional Education and how it can change the face of healthcare for the better. The World Health Organization describes Interprofessional Education (IPE) as when students from two or more professions learn about, from and with each other to enable effective collaboration and improve health outcomes. Efficient team work implies shared decision making and responsibilities, consensus on the ethical principles, constructive conflict management, and reflection of the role of each member within the team (Narayanan). Only recently have I learned that the UIW Rosenberg School of Optometry is one of only a handful of optometry programs that integrate IPE into the academic and clinical experience.

In addition to optometry, UIW has multiple health professional programs such as pharmacy, physical therapy (PT), and nursing. Each program has a solid curriculum, however the programs rarely interact. This is definitely changing. Dr. Cynthia Nguyen joined the Feik School of Pharmacy as the Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice (IPECP) Coordinator and Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacy Practice. She is currently working with other health disciplines at the University of the Incarnate Word to enhance an Interprofessional Education model and clinical site that allows students an opportunity to be a part of a patient-centered, multidisciplinary healthcare team. 

From left to right: Nicole Ghitea, Calvin Sanchez, Alissa Davenport, and Susan Ly.
From left to right: Nicole Ghitea, Calvin Sanchez, Alissa Davenport, and Susan Ly.

I too, believe that integrated professional education can lead to better integrated care and ultimately a better patient experience. So I volunteered to join the IPE group in the fall of 2014 and that has been one of my best experiences at UIW! The IPE group of 60 or so students would meet weekly on Wednesday at the Bowden Eye and Vision Care Clinic. Every IPE morning, the faculty would place 4-5 students from Pharmacy, Optometry, Physical Therapy, and Nursing into a team. Among our team, we would have a team meeting on communication and the plan for our upcoming patients. In addition to meeting with our IPE teams, the faculty would prepare lectures. The topics of the lectures and meetings were about how IPE works in caring for chronic illnesses, such as diabetes. Currently, type 2 diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States, affecting 29.1 million people (9.3% of the population). The prevalence of diabetes is expected to continue to rise in American adults, dubbing it as the pandemic of the 21st century. Because diabetes is a chronic condition, having a team of providers as opposed to one provider can greatly improve health outcomes and compliance.

We were assigned one patient per team. Each team traveled together so I was able to see what the other professionals did in an exam. What was once a big mystery is now clear to me. Everyone was awed by my eye exam because they did not know why the optometrist do what they did. Throughout the morning we explained to the patient and each other the importance of our procedures in monitoring diabetes. It was such a great learning experience. I especially like to listen to how the other professional students spoke with the patient, the questions that they ask, and the language that was used; I reflected on how I could reword my questions during case histories for a better patient experience.

The IPE program is generating much interest at UIW.  Students from the different health professional schools are currently working on a constitution to form an interprofessional student group with a mission to optimize health care. Calvin Sanchez, a second year pharmacy student at UIW, invited two nursing students Nicole Ghitea and Alissa Davenport, and myself to the first interprofessional executive board meeting. Since then Danielle Kimbrough, a Physical Therapy student, has joined and we have communicated via email and met on Google hangouts to talk about the plans for this student group. This is all very exciting and I’m glad that I had the opportunity at UIW to meet such amazing people! One of our plans was to meet at a restaurant for a meet and greet! Over 20 students and faculty came out to the mixer in the seafood resturant, Ceviche 210. I enjoyed a delicious fish taco and enjoyed a pleasant afternoon with my new UIW friends!



Narayanan, Srihari, Timothy Wingert, and Patricia Sanchez-Diaz. “Interprofessional Education Challenges With Implementation In An Optometric Curriculum.” Interprofessional Education Challenges With Implementation In An Optometric Curriculum. American Academy of Optometry, 2012. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.

Vision Screening at Catholic Charities Wellness and Resource Fair

IMG_9761_FotorLast weekend, six other students and I volunteered at the Catholic Charities Wellness and Resource Fair to provide vision screenings to attendees.  Student volunteers were recruited by the College of Optometrists in Vision Development (COVD) school chapter.

The fair also had volunteers from the University of the Incarnate Word Feik School of Pharmacy.  The pharmacists provided helpful items to organize medication lists, samples of pill containers, and education on differences between ingredients used by compounding pharmacies, among other things.

In addition, several other organizations provided dental screenings and products and blood pressure, glucose, and cholesterol measurements.  The vision screenings provided the students opportunities to use their clinical skills in a setting outside of lab or practice hours.



For several of the students, it was their first time performing clinical skills on a patient that was not their classmate, and it was even the first time for many to see cataracts.

Vision screenings are great opportunities to provide services to the local community, especially to many who may not get any type of eye or vision care otherwise.  I highly encourage all students, whether you’re a first year or fourth year, to volunteer at vision screenings as often as you can.  It is wonderful community service, and you can also hone your clinical skills while volunteering.

UIW Faculty Accept Check To Promote East Side Development

walmart gift(Pictured L-R) Dr. Charles Connor, professor, Rosenberg School of Optometry (RSO); Dr. Tina Lopez. assistant professor, Feik School of Pharmacy (FSOP); Mabel Goldsmith, Walmart store manager; Ivy Taylor, councilwoman, City of San Antonio – District 2; Terri Murphy-Sanchez, St. Philip’s College; and Dr. Arcelia Johnson-Fannin, founding dean of FSOP; accept a check for $75,000 from the Walmart Foundation on Saturday, Sept. 14 at the UIW Health Fair held at St. Philip’s College School of Health Professions. The grant will help fund health fairs, promote interprofessional education and to serve the Eastside community of San Antonio. The interprofessional education includes faculty and students from UIW optometry (Dr. Charles Connor), UIW nutrition (Dr. Joseph Bonilla), UIW nursing (Cynthia Richardson, Yvonne Davila), UIW pharmacy (Dr. Vanessa Phillips, Dr. Tina Lopez), St. Philip’s nursing (Melissa Arthur), and St. Philip’s medical laboratory (Terri Murphy-Sanchez).

source The Word E-News

3 Classes That Made a BIG Difference In My Patient Care Education

I was born and raised in East Los Angeles, where I was exposed to the “Chicano culture” at an early age. When I was in middle school, I would often visit my friend’s house after school. Her mom would only speak to me in Spanish and that forced me to learn the language really quick! However, I didn’t just learn words, she taught me the culture, and how to be “polite” in the family. To this day, I thank Mrs. Muñoz. She really helped me understand that communication is more than just through words, it’s a culture connected by heritage.

When I’m at a vision screening with Spanish speaking patients, I get really excited! I see it as an opportunity for me to put myself out there and try to make the eye exam as comfortable as possible for the patient. Sometimes when I look around at the non-Spanish speaking volunteers, I sense their discomfort from not knowing the “right” word in Spanish. I can’t help but think that the uncertainty in one’s voice could make the patient feel even more uncomfortable. To me, excellent patient care is through open communication and communication is only half verbal. Body language, posture, eye contact, all play a key part in excellent patient care!

Spanish for optometrists

There are three classes at UIWRSO that really helped me work with the non-English speaking populations.

Dr. James Chapman is faculty at UIWRSO and a man of many hats, but as a first year intern we were introduced to him as our Healthcare System and Communications professor. He asked if anyone in the class of 2016 knew what anthropology was – there wasn’t a big response. I majored in Anthropology in my undergrad. Dr. Chapman’s class Healthcare System/Communications to me was a mini crash course in cultural/social/linguistic anthropology. Students who never took a course may have thought “well isn’t this ‘obvious’ to treat patients a certain way?” Yes and no – there are international students, interns from across the nation and across different socioeconomic classes. This course really taught us to value excellent optometric patient care while respecting different cultural backgrounds.

The Orientation/Optometry/Ethics is a 1 unit course that was unique because we had guest speakers come talk about multiple subjects like compassion, justice, ethics and topics that I feel no other school will touch upon. Mrs. Kristine Benne is our lead instructor for this course and is also part of the Student Affairs team. The accreditation council dubbed UIWRSO’s Student Affairs office one of the best in the nation and I second that! She invited a philosophy professor, a nun, a politician, and leaders to give interactive lectures; although interns may or may not agree with the speakers’ point of view, I always enjoyed trying to understand their perspective and make sure that I treat different opinions with the utmost respect.

UIWRSO also offers an elective course called “Spanish for Optometrists” that is taught by Dr. Amalia Mondriguez and she is probably the sweetest lady I have ever met! Her smiles never end and her lessons were really effective in teaching Spanish. I liked how she always had something new planned to stimulate a different part of the brain and correlated it with the Spanish language. We had multiple icebreakers, played Bingo, performed skits, sang songs, and much more. She was also the Spanish teacher for our pharmacy school, so we learned some extra vocabulary in terms of common drugs and usage. UIWRSO currently only offers Spanish 1 and Spanish 2 in the summer, so the first years who went to break missed this opportunity, but the ones that stayed received an extensive Spanish vocab book and a new-found confidence communicating to Spanish-only speakers.

Dr. Mondriguez

I am glad my school always makes interns go above and beyond and take extra classes that others may think as “unimportant” from the clinical point-of-view.  When I have a patient in my chair I will always remember what these classes taught me!

Light the Way at University of the Incarnate Word

This past weekend, a few classmates and I volunteered at the reception tables for Light the Way on main campus.  Along with physical therapy and pre-pharmacy students, we passed out hot chocolate and cookies to hundreds of attendees at the event toward the end of the night.

The night consisted of live musical entertainment and fireworks, but my favorite part was when the switches were flipped, and millions of lights illuminated the campus.

It was a fun night, and the hot chocolate and cookies were delicious, too!