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8 September 2021
Faculty of Community and Health Sciences Leads the way in Interprofessional Education in Health

UWC’s Faculty of Community and Health Sciences (CHS) started the new month on a high note with a programme that could break ground internationally.

On 1 September 2021, the Interprofessional Education Unit within CHS officially launched the Postgraduate Diploma in Interprofessional Education in Health, the culmination of many years of collaboration with various internal and external stakeholders.

 “UWC has been engaged in Interprofessional Education long before the niche area was a common phenomenon. To an extent, UWC has become one of the leaders in higher education, and this presents a proud moment of achievement,” said Dr Gérard Filies, programme Director for the event.

In South Africa, the need to strengthen its health system based on the principles of primary healthcare has become one of the most urgent challenges for policymakers, health professionals, health workers, managers and community members. For effective collaboration and improved health outcomes, two or more health professionals from different professional backgrounds must first be provided with opportunities to learn with, from and about each other. This interprofessional education is essential in preparing health science students to practice collaboratively to provide a comprehensive service in a wide range of healthcare settings.

The Postgraduate Diploma in Interprofessional Education in Health offers the following Core Modules: Theories, Models and Concepts in Interprofessional Education; Leadership in Interprofessional Education and Collaboration Practice; Interprofessional Shared Decision Making; and, Interprofessional Research Project. The following electives are also on offer: Management Strategies in Public Health, Policy Implementation and Evaluation in Sport and Development, Promotion in Public Health, Monitoring and Evaluation for Health Services Improvement, and Leadership Culture and Diversity (inclusivity/culture/diversity).

Prof Hugh Barr, former Chairperson from the Centre for the Advancement of Interprofessional Education (CAIPE) in the United Kingdom, leading expert on IPE and renowned researcher/author, confirmed that this postgraduate diploma might be the first of its kind in the world.

The programme was initiated in 2016 when Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, Professor José Franz – then the Dean of CHS – applied to the Southern African-Nordic Center (SANORD), with the University of Bergen to develop an Interprofessional Education postgraduate diploma for Health and Social Sciences. It then evolved into what is now called the Postgraduate Diploma in Interprofessional Education in Health. In 2017, a UWC team consisting of Prof Frantz, Professor Anthea Rhoda, Professor Nondwe Mlenzani and Dr Gérard Filies met with external partners to plan and design the modules.

The process picked up momentum in 2018 at UWC after passing the governance process. It was approved in 2020 by all relevant internal and external bodies, and the first lecture took place on 10 August 2021. “Interprofessional Education is an important pedagogical approach for preparing health professional students to provide patient care in a collaborative team environment. This will ultimately improve patient care,” said Prof Frantz.

The programme is a right fit for CHS, which has contextualised its work within a bio-psycho-social approach. The various schools, departments and units within the faculty can all contribute immensely to the programme.

“This means we can recruit academics, students and clinicians from different professions. This highlights the fact that in the design of the programme, we were able to draw on the expertise within the faculty from the different professions,” said CHS Dean, Prof Rhoda. “As a faculty with a social, health and well-being approach, we have cemented our strategy with the IOP. From  2018-2020 the focus was on: Together we can address the health and wellbeing of society.  We have always been an interprofessional faculty, and this postgraduate diploma is a testament to that.”

Professor Firdouza Waggie – Director of the Interprofessional Education Unit and CHS Deputy Dean for Clinical and Community Engagement – is excited about the process of the learning continuum of interprofessional education and collaborative practice (IPECP) that started almost two decades ago at CHS. She expressed her gratitude to those who contributed in their different capacities to institutionalising IPECP and designing the IPECP curriculum. The pioneers mentioned include UWC Rector Professor Tyrone Pretorius, the late Professor David Saunders, late Professor Rati Mpofu, Professor Utah Grube Lehman, Professor Rina Swart, Professor Ernesta Kunneke, Professor Judith Cornelissen, Dr Marie McDonald, Professor Neil Myburg, Ms Natalie Gordon, Professor Jo-Celene De Jongh, Professor Nadine Butler, Professor Kortenbout, Professor Felicity Daniels, late Professor Joan Mayer, and late Professor Ingrid Miller. Furthermore, she also acknowledged the IPEU team for their contribution in operationalising the IPECP vision, including Mr Joey Appolis, Ms Casandra Carelse, Ms Luzaan Kock, Ms Labeeqah Jaffer, Claudia Swinny, Dr Simone Titus and Dr Gérard Filies.

For further information and queries, contact the Programme Coordinator, Dr Gérard Filies: