Matt Schorr
November 30, 2018




NASHVILLE, Tenn. The Interprofessional Education (IPE) Student Project, a collaborative effort between academia and the community, is once again bringing students in the healthcare field together with non-profit organizations hoping to better their communities.

“The reputation from the Student Project before helped with recruiting more students,” Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance (MVA) Program Manager Pilar Prather, M.Ed commented. “We had an increase in the number of students who were interested after hearing from those who participated in the previous project.”


The project

The MVA hosts the IPE Student Project every year, and it offers a chance for students in various health programs to work with non-profit groups in a real world setting. Twenty-six students joined the following MVA Community Partners:

“We’ve had four sessions, so far,” Prather explained. “As in past years, each team will create and implement plans of action to address community-defined needs.”


Community Partners

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.

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.


Session I: Personality Tests

Much like past projects, students met at the MVA for an introduction about IPE, the project and a Myers-Briggs personality test. The test, Prather said, helped determine who worked with whom.

Myers-Briggs is a questionnaire that indicates differing psychological preferences in in how people see the world and make decisions.

“Once they completed the test, they brought their results and shared them with the group to see categories everyone fell into,” Prather said.


Session II: Pitches

Students pitched their teams to Community Partners and participated in a social determinants of health presentation hosted by the Vanderbilt School of Nursing during the second session.

“Each team did a two-minute pitch, and the Community Partners ranked each team based on the team pitches,” Prather said. “In return, each team rated their preference in Community Partners.”

At the session’s end, Prather compared scores in order to match one another together.


Session III: Teamwork

When they gathered for a third time, students learned teamwork and development with the Zoom Game, an activity where participants put pictures together without revealing them to anyone else. It required them to communicate solely with words and descriptions.

“The activity focused on effective communication and problem-solving skills,” Prather said.


Session IV: The Reveal

The big reveal of who would work with who came at the fourth and final session of 2018, and it happened in dramatic fashion. The tables were labeled with a certain color, and each team was assigned a color. The teams sat together at their assigned table. At the reveal, the Community Partners popped giant balloons filled with confetti, and the colors indicated which teams would pair with which partners.

A faculty member from the collaborative was assigned to each team, and the students also learned about community engagement and project design.


Team Projects

Dismas House plans to create a deliverable that addresses certain signs of mental health issues – like depression, anxiety or PTSD – and highlight symptoms one might experience without realizing it’s a mental health issue.

Oasis Center wants to build on last year’s project: a website that displays different health professions, ranging from certificates to four-year degrees.

St. Luke’s Community House once again has two programs, one focused on youth and one focused on seniors. St. Luke’s Youth hopes to create a resource guide spotlighting symptoms of childhood behavior disorders that parents might not be aware of, like ADHD or autism. St. Luke’s Seniors intends to publish a guide with

common services for seniors, like lawn service, furniture stores and affordable clinics.

Urban Housing Solutions plans to create a Community Watch Program to bring in more community building activities and foster a more nurturing environment.


What’s next?

“Students will resume for the second part, working on the project, on January 24, 2019,” Prather said.

The teams will prepare presentations and create deliverables, as specified by the Community Partners, aimed at improving the health and wellbeing of the community.

“We always want to continue to promote the importance of IPE amongst all disciplines,” Prather added.


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.