Matt Schorr
December 11, 2017

IPE PIlot Project-1.jpg
Photo by Pilar Prather, M.Ed
Students meet with non-profit organizations at the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance to discuss plans for the IPE Student Project.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. The Interprofessional Education (IPE) Student Project is a collaborative effort between academia and the community. Students in the healthcare field work together with non-profit organizations with the goal of bettering their community.

 “Projects like this are crucial to the future of healthcare,” IPE Program Manager Pilar Prather, M.Ed said. “It’s vital to the future of well-being in general, that we learn how to work as teams to take care of people.”


IPE Student Project

The IPE Student Project, hosted by the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance (MVA), provides an opportunity for students from various health programs to collaborate with non-profit organizations in a real world setting. In all, 28 students from 11 programs and five institutions worked with the following MVA Community Partners:

  • St. Luke’s Community House
  • Urban Housing Solutions
  • Dismas House
  • Oasis Center

“Guided by our partnering community organizations, a team of professionally diverse students will create and implement plans of action to address community-defined needs,” Prather said.


IPE PIlot Project-2.jpg
Photo by Pilar Prather, M.Ed
Charles Spinks (Belmont), Emily Berg (Vanderbilt), Amanda Waterman (Belmont), Alyssa Davis (Belmont), Charmaine Liy (Vanderbilt), Lee Gray (Oasis Center) and Mosa Shubayr (Meharry). Not pictured: Matthew Smith (Meharry), Beth Hallmark (Belmont)


Community Partners

St. Luke’s educates, enriches and empowers the community through meaningful collaboration and quality service.

Urban Housing Solutions’ mission is to provide affordable housing for people with unique housing needs and to eliminate packets of poverty within Nashville’s neighborhoods.

The mission of Dismas House is to bring about mutual reconciliation between former offenders and society through the development of a supportive community.

The Oasis Center provides comprehensive admissions and financial aid expertise to support and increase students’ college acceptance rates, retention and successful degree completion.


IPE PIlot Project-3.jpg
Photo by Pilar Prather, M.Ed
Rachel Zandee (Belmont), Monia Walsh (Lipscomb), Neysa Badili (St. Luke's Community House), Elisa McGinnis (Belmont), and Matthew Bidwell (Meharry). Not pictured: Jacinta Leavell (Meharry) and Gerald Davis (Meharry).


Session I: Forming Teams

Students from Vanderbilt University (VU), Belmont University, Lipscomb University, Tennessee State University (TSU) and Meharry Medical College (MMC) gathered at the MVA for the first time on October 26, 2017.

“The first session was an overview,” Prather said.

After going over the MVA and the upcoming project, each student took the Myers Briggs personality test – which indicates differing psychological preferences in how people perceive the world – and joined their respective groups.

“We discussed personality traits, how they could work through that and what people’s strengths and weaknesses were,” Prather said.


IPE PIlot Project-4.jpg
Photo by Pilar Prather, M.Ed
Elizabeth Robinson (Vanderbilt), Haleigh Hemond (Vanderbilt), Shawna McAdams (Lipscomb), Tiffany Davis (Urban Housing Solutions) Karon Uzzell-Baggett (Belmont) and Lucy Mourtin (Vanderbilt). Not pictured: Amy Turner (Vanderbilt) and Christian Ketel (Vanderbilt).


Session II: The Pitch

“In the second session, the students pitched their team to the Community Partners, and the Community Partners evaluated the pitch and provided comments,” Prather explained.

Students reviewed each community partner’s mission, goals and history.

“In return,” Prather said, “the students ranked their preferences of projects and Community Partners they preferred  to work with.”


IPE PIlot Project-5.jpg
Photo by Pilar Prather, M.Ed
Carey Szetela (Meharry), Jerisha Caudle (TSU), Shannon Davies (Vanderbilt), Maria Papadoponlos (Belmont), Gerald Brown (Dismas House), Katelyn Fougere (Vanderbilt), Todd Gilpin (Dismas House), Julie Simpkins (Belmont) and Jay Hedgepeth (TSU). Not pictured: Christian Ketel (Vanderbilt) and Sasha Curry (Meharry).


Session III: The Zoom Game

The third session involved the Zoom Game, which was based on the “Zoom” picture books that contain sequential pictures within pictures. Each person received an image but was not permitted to show it to anyone else. Together, each team figured out the correct sequence.

The activity focused on effective communication and problem-solving skills.


IPE PIlot Project-6.jpg
Photo by Pilar Prather, M.Ed
Missy Bryan (Belmont), Haley Ward (Belmont), Natalya Richardson (Vanderbilt), Jordan Douglas (Meharry), Nora Adams (Vanderbilt), Sarah Saussy (Vanderbilt) and Corey Gephart (St. Luke's Community House). Not pictured: Samuel Starks (Lipscomb) and Barbara Jacobson (Vanderbilt).


Session IV: The Reveal

“Our final session of the year (November 16, 2017) was the reveal,” Prather said.

At an event resembling a Golden Globes award ceremony, the Community Partners attended and received envelopes containing the names of their team inside. Flanked with streamers and Hollywood decorations, they announced the pairings.

Two teams will work with St. Luke’s – one with the Seniors’ Program and one with the Children’s Program – while the remaining Community Partners will each work with one team.


Team Projects

Students working with Urban Housing Solutions will focus on contributing to health outcomes for vulnerable residents through a deliverable that will include low-cost and healthy recipes, converting leftovers into multiple meal options and maximizing a food budget.

St. Luke’s Community House has two programs – a Senior Program and a Children’s Program – that will participate. The student team paired with the Senior Program will build upon the resource guide created by the last IPE student team, explaining how certain healthy foods can supply necessary nutrients and outlining easy exercise activities to maintain a healthy life. The team with the Children’s Program will create a deliverable for parents to educate their children about dental care.

Students working with the Oasis Center will create a deliverable about career opportunities and the academic skills necessary to be successful in those careers.

Students working with Dismas House will develop a program that helps with prevention of incarceration.


Looking ahead

With the glitz and glam out of the way, the teams made preparations for the work ahead. Their next assigned meetings would be held at the MVA starting January 25, 2018, and continue through March 22.

“They’ll also work outside of that time,” Prather noted. “They have a minimum of 20 hours to devote to the project. That can include going to the Community Partner organizations.”

Ultimately, the teams will prepare a presentation and create a deliverable  aimed at benefiting the health and wellbeing of the community.


About the Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance

Founded in 1999, the Alliance bridges the institutions of Meharry Medical College and Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Its mission is to enrich learning and advance clinical research in three primary areas -- community engagement, interprofessional education and research -- by developing and supporting mutually beneficial partnerships between Meharry Medical College, Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the communities they serve. Through community engagement, the Alliance serves a large community of stakeholders including surrounding universities and colleges, community organizations, faith-based outlets and community health centers. Its interprofessional education enhances students' interdisciplinary understanding and improves patient outcomes through integrated care. The research conducted provides access to experienced grant writers and materials supporting the grant application process and facilitates grant-writing workshops.