West Coast University Opens Center for Graduate Studies

Consolidated Campus Promotes Interprofessional Education

On May 12, 2015, West Coast University will celebrate the grand opening of its Center for Graduate Studies, located near Los Angeles Children’s Hospital and Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital. The campus recently completed a stunning renovation, but the remarkable building is not the only thing that has administrators and students abuzz.

The University’s graduate programs have expanded from the Master of Science in Nursing, Post-Master’s Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) and Health Administration to include a Master’s degree program in Occupational Therapy and Doctorate programs in Physical Therapy and Pharmacy. Plus, WCU is currently seeking candidacy status for a Master of Physician Assistant Program. These emerging programs have a new home – all on one campus – and there’s a reason that’s significant: interprofessional education.

Interprofessional education eliminates the traditional silos of learning. “Health care professionals have historically been educated and trained in a single field, with minimal interaction among disciplines,” said Dr. Jeb Egbert, Provost, West Coast University. “But delivery of health care is changing and teams of interdisciplinary experts are collaborating to provide patient care. We think this collaborative model needs to start with the education of our future doctors, nurses, therapists and administrators.” Thus, West Coast University has brought its graduate programs together under a single roof with opportunities for cross-pollination embedded into the curricula.

The University has established four core elements in its pursuit of interprofessional education. First, each graduate program includes an introduction to the concept of interprofessional education. Students are educated not just about their own profession, but other health care professions and specialties.

Second, West Coast University holds an annual interprofessional education day. Students and faculty members come together to review a series of case studies to better understand how their scope of practice fits into a coordinated care model. Students learn when to step forward in support of a patient, and when to allow another expert to lead.

Third, students are given many opportunities to work in the field as an interprofessional team. This year, students from each graduate program, as well as the undergraduate programs in nursing and dental hygiene from WCU’s other campuses, will serve as health care teams supporting the athletes participating in the Special Olympics World Games in Los Angeles.

Finally, interprofessional teams of graduate students work to improve the health of seniors, veterans, and other communities. “If students are merely listening to a lecture, their retention of information is low,” Campus Executive Director Ladd Graham says. “But when students engage, retention increases and if they are required to teach someone else, retention soars.” Putting this theory into practice, West Coast University students are sent into the field to bring health care prevention and treatment strategies to life – real world experience that helps those served, and creates lasting learning for these future health care providers.

For information about the West Coast University Center for Graduate Studies’ grand opening, contact Nikola Dry at ndry@westcoastuniversity.edu. The event will include a campus tour that illustrates how interprofessional education plays out in a typical patient scenario.

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