Students gathering in groups for discussions at IPE Day

IPE Day is an annual interprofessional education event co-hosted by University of Waterloo and Western University.

On March 9, Waterloo Pharmacy first year students travelled to London, Ontario, for the fifth annual Interprofessional Education Day (IPE Day). Since the inaugural event in 2016, IPE Day has welcomed 2,495 students and more than 200 facilitators at its London and Windsor venues. 2020’s event was the largest ever, with more than 800 students in London participating.

The event began with a panel discussion that featured clinicians from London’s InterCommunity Health Centre and practitioners in Kitchener who focused on refugee health. Prof. Wasem Alsabbagh of Waterloo Pharmacy has extensive experience providing health care for new Canadians and served as the pharmacist representative on the panel.

After the panel, students broke into groups and explored a patient case together. The groups included students from pharmacy, optometry, medicine, nursing, dentistry, social work, occupational health, physiotherapy, and nutrition. Discussions were facilitated by health care providers and faculty from all participating institutions.

“Connecting with other health care learners provides excellent learning moments for our students,” says David Edwards, Hallman Director of Waterloo Pharmacy and a facilitator at IPE Day. “Students educate each other and arrive at insights together. These experiences prepare students for interprofessional collaboration later in their professional lives.”

Students seated around a table discussing a patient case

The case focused on a refugee family new to Canada and with unique health needs. The patient had cerebral palsy, and the students had to decide the best way to provide care. Together, they worked through questions such as: “should the patient be admitted to a hospital?”, “how can home care be provided to patients struggling with securing stable housing,” and “how will medications be accessed and paid for?”

“Just as it is essential for our students to learn with and from each other, we at Waterloo Pharmacy value our partnerships with other educational institutions,” says Debbie Ellen, Interprofessional Education Program Manager. “Through collaboration across our own campus and with partners at other institutions, we build on each other’s strengths and deliver unique, valuable learning opportunities for all our students.”

Waterloo Pharmacy is a founding member of the IPE Day planning team and member of the South Western Academic Health Network (SWAHN). IPE Day is financially supported by participating programs at Western University, the University of Waterloo, their affiliated University Colleges, and the SWAHN. For more information, please visit the SWAHN website.