Collaboration is built into new health studies facility

CMU’s new Interprofessional Education and Practice Center opens wide the door to student success

| Author: Gary H. Piatek

As workers enter the final construction phases of Central Michigan University's Center for Integrated Health Studies, Amy Malheim is putting the final touches on her plan for the new Interprofessional Education and Practice Center within the building.

Starting in January, this is where CMU health professions students will find new opportunities to learn by doing, training with high-tech clinical mannequins and role-playing medical actors.

Malheim is director of the center, having arrived in July from the University of North Dakota, where she was administrator of a similar program. Her guiding principles for the center are embedded in its name: interprofessional, education, practice.

"The center is to be all about collaboration among the health professions, to get various disciplines talking and learning from each other," she said.

That's the future of health care, studies show, and the IEPC is designed to keep CMU students at the forefront.

"In today's world, health care professionals need to be trained in real-life environments," said Tom Masterson, dean of The Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow College of Health Professions.

"That includes learning and working alongside colleagues with different clinical training and using high-definition mannequins and students role-playing as patients. These experiences help train our students to better respond clinically in real-world situations, which ultimately will improve patient outcomes."

Exploring the center

The center encompasses 6,000 square feet that includes a two-room simulation suite equipped with a variety of high-tech clinical mannequins in addition to eight patient exam rooms for role-playing medical scenarios. All rooms are set up for observation and feedback.

"This gives students the hands-on experience in a controlled environment that allows them to make a mistake and to correct it right after," Malheim said.

Malheim foresees that departments would schedule groups in the center three to four times a semester as well as work with her to set up their own collaborations, such as physical therapy students working with speech-language pathology students.

She also expects to create an interprofessional committee with representatives from each department and discipline, including the College of Medicine, to champion the effort.

Masterson said he is excited that a 10-year goal is coming to fruition.

"The center is key to a lot of our programs moving into the future."

Construction of the $26 million, 50,000-square-foot CIHS building began in March 2018. The Michigan Legislature allocated $19.5 million for the building, and the balance came from university reserves.

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