Vanderbilt Program in Interprofessional Learning

The Vanderbilt Program in Interprofessional Learning (VPIL) entered another year of supporting meaningful collaboration in health science education, welcoming the eighth cohort of students during the summer immersion orientation week. For the 2017-2018 academic year, a total of 88 health professions students will work and learn together in 24 clinical environments. This increases the cumulative total of 358 health professional students placed in 50 clinical environments over a two-year period since the first cohort began in 2010.

Partnerships - Student Recruitment

The VPIL educational model continues to create four-person student teams (primarily medical, nursing, pharmacy, and social work). However, academic year 2016-17 gave cause to begin thinking of the social work student “team slot” more broadly as a “behavioral health team slot.” This change in definition is a result of the ongoing challenge of recruiting enough social work students to fill all available team slots and also the growing interest and number of collaborative opportunities from other professional schools in the Vanderbilt community. The following highlights two significant relationships that will result in changes to our team configurations:

  • After a year of discussions with the Vanderbilt Divinity School, three upper level divinity students were added to the Psychiatric, Pediatric Complex Care, and Alive Hospice student teams this fall. Continuing close work with the Divinity School faculty sponsor will help facilitate a better understanding of how to improve Divinity students' integration with the other health professionals.  
  • VPIL is also part of a 2017 federal training grant (HRSA) awarded to the Vanderbilt University Masters of Counseling program to better integrate behavioral health with the health science professions. At least five counseling students will be welcomed into VPIL teams starting in July 2018.

Continued efforts working with both the masters of social work program at the University of Tennessee and Tennessee State University targets the recruitment of as many social work students as possible. Current conversations with MTSU’s masters of social work program explore whether there are interested students for next year’s cohort, as well.

Collaborations - Curricular

Ongoing collaboration with the Southeastern AIDS Education and Training Center (SE-AETC) and the Wisdom Working Group (Vanderbilt University TIPs, Trans-Institutional Program) has resulted in curricular enhancements for first year VPIL students. Other key academic year 2016-17 collaborations are also described below:

  • The SE-AETC coordinating center at Vanderbilt uses the VPIL model in their federally funded (HRSA) strategic plan as a guide for IPE. As part of their mission, the SE-AETC supports the development of four interprofessional programs in Kentucky, South Carolina, Florida, and Tennessee. Participating programs integrate HIV educational content with their current or newly designed IPE programs. Elements of the VPIL model including a requirement for programs to be longitudinal, clinic based, and contain a Capstone project focused on engaging in improvement efforts are all part of the required work for the partners. VPIL Director for Program Development Heather Davidson, PhD, has been an ongoing consultant for this project and sits on the SE-AETC Strategic Learning Innovation committee as their IPE lead.
    • The SE-AETC faculty have assisted in the development and teaching of a VPIL seminar focused on HIV care and demonstrating the work of an interprofessional model for the VPIL students in the spring semester curriculum.
    • The three VPIL teams that are in clinics focused on caring for the HIV population also receive enhanced clinical training from the SE-AETC faculty.
  • The Wisdom Working Group TIPS Project collaboration resulted in the development of a learning unit on “Active Listening for Health Professionals.” One of their fellows, an award-winning poet, was welcomed as a central speaker during the 2017 summer immersion orientation program. Her focus on voice and poetry was well received by VPIL students.
  • A collaboration with the Vanderbilt Institute in Digital Learning (VIDL) in spring of 2017 also resulted in a small VIDL innovations grant to explore the use of virtual reality technology with interprofessional teams. VPIL intends to use this novel simulation method to enhance the current teaching and preparation for home visits and collaborative care plan development during the 2018 spring semester.
  • During the second year of the VPIL program, program faculty and students have enjoyed an ongoing collaborative relationship with the Vanderbilt Medical Center’s and Children’s Hospital Patient and Family Advisory Councils. The primary focus of the second-year curriculum is on quality improvement and advocacy. Last year the Patient Partner Program was started where members of the counsel were invited to work alongside of the VPIL teams as consultants to their quality improvement projects. The initial workshop went very well with students providing very positive feedback and thoroughly enjoying their discussions with members of the community – and learning about their extensive patient experiences. This year students will have the opportunity to work with members of the council for more than one session during the spring semester.

Scholarly Opportunities

The VPIL program continues to build national recognition through scholarly opportunities:

  • Director for Program Development Heather Davidson, PhD, was invited to speak about VPIL at the Stanford MedX Ed conference in Palo Alto, CA, in April 2017.
  • Pamela Waynick-Rogers, DNP, APRN-BC, a VPIL faculty member, was accepted into the Faculty Mentor Program in 2017 and received a Scholarship with the American Interprofessional Health Collaborative.
  • VPIL faculty continue to present the VPIL program at a range of national and international academic conferences. Citations of scholarship are now posted on the program website at

For more information about the Vanderbilt Program in Interprofessional Learning, please visit


Next: Macy Foundation Faculty Scholars Program