Universities Join Forces to Launch MUS Health Care Institute, New Programs

September 30, 2019

MISSOULA – The University of Montana and Montana State University have joined together to create a robust, interdisciplinary health sciences education and practice that will benefit patients, students and the health care industry across Montana and the nation.

Bringing together many different aspects of health care to holistically treat patients and train students, the initiative also has spurred new privately supported programs for in-home health care visits and support for American Indian health care.

Called the Montana University System Institute for Interprofessional Education and Collaborative Practice (MUS IPE Institute), the new program combines faculty, programming and curriculum at both UM and MSU.

Specific partners include UM’s College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences and MSU’s WWAMI Medical Education Program; the MSU College of Nursing; the Washington, Idaho, Montana and Utah Regional Program in Veterinary Medicine; the Montana Medical Laboratory Scientist Professional Program; the Didactic Program in Nutrition and Dietetics; and counseling graduate programs in MSU’s Department of Health and Human Development.

The Montana University System Board of Regents approved the new program in May. The new institute will serve as a resource and training center for MUS health profession students, faculty and health care sites and serve as a conduit between statewide health care sites and MUS health care programs.

Reed Humphrey, dean of UM’s College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences, said the new institute reflects the skills needed in modern health care and is a move away from single-discipline training in an equally fragmented health care system.

“To truly treat a patient holistically, health care requires more than one discipline  ̶ medicine, nursing, social work, physical therapy and more – to address patient health issues,” Humphrey said. “The collaborative skills are necessary for today’s health care workforce.”

Humphrey added that separately educating health students creates barriers to campus collaboration and leaves students ill-prepared for the demands of team-based collaborative health care. All of these issues negatively impact patients.

 “Medicine is so complicated now that a single person can’t do it,” said Kathy Jutila, interim director of the Montana State University Division of Health Sciences. “You require a whole team of professionals. The benefit of the IPE Institute is to start training multiple disciplines that deliver health care  ̶  such as medicine, dentistry, nursing, physical therapy and pharmacy – and to start training them as students so they can learn their strengths as a team to efficiently and effectively deliver rural health care.”

 To counter these challenges, the MUS IPE Institute will sustain and expand current efforts to enhance interprofessional education in the classroom and clinical environment, while creating better infrastructure to support health care educators and practitioners across the state.

“The MUS IPE Institute will build on professional expertise to encourage teamwork, shared values and common understanding,” said Kate Chapin, interim co-director of the institute. “By combining resources our students will be prepared to provide high-quality patient care.”

Additionally, the Montana Healthcare Foundation has funded two projects at UM: the Montana Interprofessional Student Hotspotting project and Improving Access, Training and Recruitment for American Indian Healthcare. 

The Montana Interprofessional Student Hotspotting project will collaborate with Missoula’s Partnership Health Center’s Complex Care Program to implement a team-based, patient-centered approach to serving the patients who have high use of health care services in Missoula County.

Through home-based, non-clinical interventions, the project seeks to improve patients’ quality of life and integrate medical, behavioral and social care. The program will train health sciences students to identify and address social and environmental barriers that lead patients to seek regular, primary care.

The second program – Improving Access, Training and Recruitment for American Indian Healthcare – pairs UM’s Family Medicine Residency of Western Montana (FMRWM) with Tribal Health of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

The program will provide cultural training for resident physicians and students and will offer clinical learning opportunities through tribal health. The program also will train resident physicians and students of other health professions so they will be better prepared to work toward delivering the highest quality care for Native populations.

 “This is an exciting and unique opportunity for residents and students to learn from and develop greater interest in working with Native populations,” said Dr. Darin Bell, assistant director of rural education at FMRWM. “The chance to work together in interdisciplinary teams and provide care that has previously been difficult for patients to access will provide enormous benefit for all.”

Humphrey said the launch of the MUS IPE and two new programs mirrors the MUS goal of interprofessional and collaborative practice.

 “These programs will create something special for health care in Montana,” he said.

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Contact: Reed Humphrey, dean, UM College of Health Professions and Biomedical Sciences, 406-243-4341, 406-243-4341, reed.humphrey@mso.umt.edu.