his issue of UMDNJ Magazine explores a better way of looking at how health care is delivered — interprofessionalism — that promises better outcomes for patients, encourages closer working relationships among health professionals, and challenges the traditional model of medical education. Interprofessionalism is a specific way of maximizing the potential of teamwork to emphasize collaborative problem-solving. It's a new vision for health care, according to the Institute of Medicine, where a variety of health professionals work to better serve the patient. Just as important, it is a process in which different professionals learn from each other through interaction and communication to achieve a shared objective — better coordinated and more effective patient care — and ultimately mutual respect. UMDNJ recently opened the Jordan & Harris Community Health Center in Newark, a cooperative venture among three of our schools and, as you will see, a prime example of putting the process into practice.
The realization that patients benefit from teams that mutually respect one another and can communicate, collaborate and coordinate care has indeed challenged traditional medical education and health care delivery. As New Jersey's health sciences university, UMDNJ has responded by preparing future health professionals for the workplace by embedding the concept of and appreciation for interprofessionalism in their learning experiences.
For example, dental and medical school faculty have developed modules dealing with oral health issues that have been successfully integrated into the osteopathic medical curriculum. Students in our nationally ranked physician assistant program are working side-by-side with medical students during hospital rotations. Doctoral students are studying urban systems in a collaborative program with NJIT and Rutgers-Newark. And you will also read about biomedical engineering students whose mentors are NJIT engineers and UMDNJ bioscientists.
Experts note that changes in health care delivery over the last decade have been driven by a growing emphasis on measurable outcomes, best practices, continuity of care and cost containment. This has led in turn to calls for interprofessional models to replace traditional models both of patient care and health professionals' education.
As you turn the pages of this magazine, you will see that, from our classrooms to our research laboratories, UMDNJ has answered the call to change the way we educate health professionals and the way we deliver health care. This University will continue its journey to outstanding as we advance an interprofessional approach to patient- centered education, research, clinical care and community service.
Denise V. Rodgers, MD, FAAFP