Your optometric education has a shelf life. Any doctor with a professional degree would agree with this statement–a statement that applies to your own future as well. When you graduate as a doctor of optometry, right away, like that shiny brand new car driven off the showroom floor, your optometric education starts to age.
This question should be a key issue as you go about the process of selecting an optometry program. You will be spending valuable resources by investing in an optometry program that will be the purveyor of your very own optometric education; therefore, you want the program to be forward-thinking in its vision and to provide an education with the longest shelf life possible.
You ask, “What gives it the longest shelf life possible?”
The answer to this question is “Interprofessional Education (IPE).”
When speaking to groups of students interested in a career in optometry, I’ve explained many times that I have the answer to an important question, but none of you are asking the question! The question is, “How do I select a program that will give me the most relevant optometric education possible?,” and the answer is, “Chose a program that will educate you in an interprofessional environment where you’ll learn to work a team member on a team of professionals who work together to deliver a patient’s care.” That’s how you increase the shelf life of your optometric education!
The article entitled, “Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Patient Care at U.S. Schools and College of Optometry: A Special Report,” from Optometric Education (Volume 40 Number 2/Winter-Spring 2015), addresses the topic of interprofessional education and the imminent and inevitable need for its integration into optometric education. Because of IPE’s importance to health care delivery in the coming age, the article’s discussion concludes by challenging schools and colleges of optometry to individually develop their own IPE programs, developing “their own rationale regarding what interprofessional experiences are feasible and best suited for their students.”
The article goes on give a fuller context to IPE and optometric education:
It is important to note that by definition IPE is not simply students from different health professions sitting in a classroom for the same course, or working separately from one another in the same health care facility. Student interaction, whether in the classroom or the patient care setting, is the defining feature of IPE. While many responding institutions report shared coursework or patient care, it is not clear from the survey results that these activities strictly meet the definition of IPE.
The impetus for IPE often comes from national and/or international calls for programs that promote interprofessional practice. . .There are strong reasons for optometry to participate in IPE programs. As adapted from the dental education literature these include:
- Optometry is a critical component of the primary care system in the United States, and its practitioners must be able to communicate effectively with other primary care providers.
- Management of chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, has consequences for patients’ eye health.
- Efficient and quality eye care for both prevention and treatment of eye disease can best be achieved when members of the eye healthcare team work together collaboratively as well as with members of other health professions.
- With special consideration for the Affordable Care Act, optometry is increasingly expected to interact with community public health systems to improve access to care and implement community-wide preventive measures.
Marshall B. Ketchum University is committed to providing its students with a quality interprofessional educational experience. This short video features key players–administrators, faculty and even a student–who explain why MBKU has taken this vital step as it transitions to incorporating IPE into its program:
Visit our website to learn more about IPE at MBKU.