Introducing UNE’s Center for Excellence in Health Innovation

May 16th, 2016 by Health Innovations

head shot for IPE

In the fall of 2015, UNE’s President Ripich renamed the Center for Excellence in Interprofessional Education to the Center for Excellence in Health Innovation, and named as its director, Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH, FAAP, UNE’s Vice President for Clinical Affairs.

The Center’s new name reflects its expanded scope, which includes interprofessional education (IPE) in clinical settings as well as a focus on innovative service, learning, and research opportunities for UNE students and faculty that are in the nexus between health care transformation, public health and education and that build the Institute of Medicine’s competencies for health professionals — providing patient-centered care, working in interdisciplinary teams, employing evidence-based practice, applying quality improvement and utilizing informatics.

By working collaboratively across all UNE colleges and students, other UNE centers for excellence, the University’s clinical affiliates and the faculty-led Interprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC), and by building upon the solid foundation created by the former Center for Excellence in Interprofessional Education, the Center for Excellence in Health Innovation is focusing on clinical and public health settings. Shelley Cohen Konrad continues to lead the University’s IPEC that focuses on faculty-led on-campus IPE curriculum development and integration.

In addition, several UNE public health programs, formerly making up the School of Community and Population Health, are joining the Center to facilitate their work with all UNE colleges and students. They include: Maine AHEC (Area Health Education Center), which focuses on alleviating health workforce shortages in rural and underserved areas (; Maine SNAP-Ed, which provides nutrition education for low-income people (; and several researchers who focus on evaluative research.

New activities during the first year for the Center include:

  • Developing and implementing clinically focused IP opportunities for UNE’s pre-clinical health professions students, such as interprofessional immunization clinics for Portland area vulnerable populations, public health emergency exercises, TeamSTEPPS training with certification, and a one-week rural health immersion;
  • Working with UNE’s College of Osteopathic Medicine to develop and implement the Care for the Underserved Pathway (CUP) (;
  • Collaborating with clinical partners such as Eastern Maine Medical Center (EMMC) to evaluate the impact of IPE in clinical settings as part of UNE’s participation as one of several research sites for the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education;
  • Expanding UNE’s public health services and providing additional opportunities for UNE students for public health service.



Ian Imbert at

Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH at

Ground-Breaking Grant to Address Patient Safety and Rural Shortages

May 16th, 2016 by healthinnovation

health on the move

A few months ago, the University of New England (UNE) received a major grant award from the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation for $600,000 to expand its interprofessional team-based curriculum to all health professions programs. The ultimate goals of this grant are: to ensure all health care professionals who are UNE graduates are equipped with the necessary team-based skills to provide high quality patient care; and to address shortages of health care professionals in rural Maine.

“With its 15-year history of on-campus interprofessional education (IPE) started by the Westbrook College of Health Professions, UNE is now positioned to fully expand IPE to all 13 of its health professions programs, including osteopathic medicine, dental medicine and pharmacy,” said Shelley Cohen Konrad, PhD, LCSW, director of UNE’s Interprofessional Education Collaborative. “Students will participate in team-based trainings in clinical settings, particularly in Maine’s rural community health centers and hospitals.”

“We are proud to be the first osteopathic medical school in the country to receive Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation funds to expand interprofessional education offerings through all four years of the curriculum,” commented Douglas Wood, D.O., Ph.D., FACOI, dean of UNE’s College of Osteopathic Medicine. “This curriculum will ensure osteopathic medical students graduate with team competencies and with a focus on rural primary care, public health and patient engagement.”

“Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States, with 80% of those errors resulting from poor teamwork among health professionals,” said Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH, FAAP, UNE’s vice president for Clinical Affairs and director of UNE’s Center for Excellence in Health Innovation. “Educating and training students from a variety of health professions together enables them to learn how to effectively work as a team, building clear communication and collaboration skills that will ultimately increase patient safety.”

“By educating our students from different professions together in classrooms as well as in clinical settings, we are building the skills necessary for them to be effective members of health care teams and provide patients safer care,” said Danielle Ripich, Ph.D., president of UNE. “By partnering with Maine’s rural health care providers and placing these student teams in underserved areas, we are also addressing shortages of health care professionals, since students who train in rural areas are more likely to return there to practice.”

To learn more about our efforts, please contact Ian Imbert, program coordinator for the Macy grant , who is coordinating its clinical interprofessional education program, at or Kris Hall for information on UNE’s on-campus IPE initiatives at For more information from UNE websites, visit the Center for Health Innovation for information on UNE’s clinical interprofessional education initiatives ( or the Interprofessional Education Collaborative, a faculty-led initiative focused on on-campus IPE (

About UNE
UNE is the leading educator of healthcare professionals for the state of Maine. The University’s comprehensive health education mission positions it among a select few private universities in the U.S. that offer programs in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, dental medicine, nursing and an array of allied-health professions. UNE’s students and faculty also volunteer more than 10,000 hours of community service annually to 150 local organizations and schools. In addition, UNE students provide approximately $21 million in clinical care to Maine patients. UNE’s annual economic impact on the state totals nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars.


About the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation
Since 1930, the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation has worked to improve health care in the United States. Founded by Kate Macy Ladd in memory of her father, prominent philanthropist Josiah Macy Jr., the Foundation supports projects that broaden and improve health professional education. It is now the only national foundation solely dedicated to this mission.


UNE Ghana Cross Cultural Health Immersion

May 16th, 2016 by healthinnovation

Ghana UNE students 2015

For the ninth straight year, Jen Morton, DNP, MPH, director of UNE’s nursing programs, will lead a group of 40 UNE health professions students and faculty to Ghana the first two weeks of August.

UNE and Ghanaian students and clinical faculty, including physicians, nurses, pharmacists, physical therapists, physician assistants, optometrists, public health professionals, community health works, and social workers conduct interprofessional clinics during the two weeks in the southwest coastal city of Sekondi and two nearby rural villages. Students also participate in visits to local private and public clinics.

“This learning experience is the result of a long-standing partnership between UNE with Cape Coast University, the Ghana Health Services, and the Reverend Robert Andoh and the Pure Word Chapel, and has allowed us to work alongside each other, learning from, with, and about each other, and most importantly with our patients,” said Jen Morton.

Each year, several clinical interprofessional strategies are implemented, including: interprofessional teams seeing and/or discussing patients together; basic TeamSTEPPS training for all UNE and Ghanaian students and faculty; the routine use of briefings, huddles, and debriefings; interprofessional case reviews; and integrating some population health strategies in a clinical setting, such as the collecting and analyzing tests and surveys on malaria.

Ghana PT student 2015

“UNE prides itself on teaching interprofessional practice, and this Ghana opportunity made interprofessional care come to life. We worked alongside other professions and built relationships and cultural competencies,” said Spencer Allard, UNE nursing student who participated in the immersion in 2015. “This experience helped all of us become better health professionals here in the U.S.”

Besides Jen Morton, other UNE faculty participating in last year’s Ghana Cross Cultural Health Immersion included: Dennis Leighton, DPT, PT; Molly Collin, PT; Emily Dornblaser, Pharm D; Shayne Foley, PA-C; Jen Gunderman, MPH; Priscilla Hennessey, MSN; and Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH. UNE students ranged from nursing, physical therapy, public health, social work, and pre-medicine.

For more information:

Lessons Rural Interprofessional Education Can Teach Us

April 16th, 2016 by healthinnovation

Aroostook potato fields 2 (2015)

Photo credit: Paul Cyr

Whenever a group of us from the University of New England (UNE) drives five hours north to Aroostook County, we are struck by the beauty and serenity of its rolling hills blanketed with potato fields that sink into a low, wide horizon. The pulse of potato farming is felt throughout the year and throughout this region, which forms the state’s northern border with Canada.

In mid-April last year, with the ground still covered in snow, a group of us from UNE drove north to convene the Northern Maine Interprofessional Collaborative Practice (IPCP) Summit. We, too, were farmers, working alongside our colleagues in Aroostook County, to plant and harvest ideas to improve team-based health care practice and education.

The Northern Maine Summit hosted approximately 80 individuals and teams from three federally qualified health centers (FQHCs), four hospitals, independent dental and behavioral health practices and four regional higher education institutions. Based on a similar summit supported by the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation and hosted by UNE in southern Maine in 2014, the Northern Maine Summit promised to reap its own variety of ideas with a rural flavor to nourish interprofessional practice.

We have learned that rural areas, and especially rural FQHCs, are fertile soil for interprofessional practice and education (IPE). With primary care, behavioral health, oral health and pharmacy often housed under one roof – and with rural culture commonly very conducive to tight collaborations and effective teamwork – interprofessional practice is often a suitable crop for this environment.

Our hope is that by planting the seeds of awareness of national and state IPE and IPCP efforts we can help improve the team-based care delivered in these underserved areas as well as address the chronic workforce shortages experienced in rural Maine.

During the afternoon of the summit, we discussed and discerned with our Aroostook colleagues next steps to continue growing IPE and IPCP in northern Maine. Since some UNE health professions students already complete some of their clinical clerkships in the county, two steps identified were:  1) To further train preceptors in interprofessional concepts; and 2) To collaboratively develop interprofessional learning opportunities for those existing students.

To make a sustainable impact, we also want to increase the number of students in rural clerkships to help address the area’s chronic workforce shortages. Implementing these clerkships is a focus of a major four-year Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation grant to UNE with the ultimate goals of: ensuring that all UNE health professions graduates are equipped with the necessary team-based skills to ensure high quality patient-centered care; and addressing health workforce shortages in rural Maine.

Moving forward, we plan on creating a learning collaborative modeled after the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Breakthrough Series, using distance technology, such as webinars and conference calls, to augment occasional on-site meetings that support rural clinical faculty development with this network of Aroostook County community health centers as well as with hospital and other affiliated practices. What was our biggest lesson from the summit? It was that the culture of rural areas can teach us a lot about interprofessionalism.

For instance, one story we heard is that an especially dry growing season in 2012 meant farmers had to delay the potato harvest. Without much notice, local schools responded by delaying their annual October harvest break, in which students work in the fields to bring in the crops. As one school superintendent noted, “These farmers pay taxes that support our communities and they need the students to bring in their crop. It just makes sense for us to work together.”[i]

Indeed, these types of interprofessional partnerships that support each other are a foundation for IPE. We believe the journey with our clinical partners in Aroostook County will truly be a learning collaborative for all of us, as we learn from, with and about each other.

Planning your own long-distance summit?

Northerrn Maine IPCP Summit Wide Shot 5 2015

Putting on a summit in a rural area five hours from our campus was challenging, but we learned a few pearls that may help others interested in doing the same:

National and local partnerships are key to success. With support from the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, and the ability to “beam in” National Center senior advisor Frank Cerra, MD, for a keynote address, our national collaborators were important resources. Our partnership with UNE’s Maine Area Health Education Center (Maine AHEC), with its regional center at the Northern Maine Community College, resulted in financial support, a local hosting site and easy connections with local leadership.

Interested in learning more? Please contact the UNE team at – See more at: Engaging students in the summit enhances the discussion.One medical student in attendance not only shared some helpful ideas, but she also explained to the audience that despite having trepidations about spending three months in Aroostook, now that she is toward the end of a clerkship there, she feels rooted and wants to return to live and work after completing her training.

Using some standardized curriculum, from resources such as TeamSTEPPS’ Primary Care module and facilitated learning materials from our colleagues at the University of Toronto, provides an easy way to create evidence-based multimedia and engaging presentations that also gives the audience some access to ongoing resources.

Establishing in-person university community relationships early on is essential to developing interprofessional practice and education aimed at health care transformation. These in-person collaborative meetings help us to recognize the individuality of communities, which can lead to more robust and sustainable clinical education and systems change.

Interested in learning more? Please contact the UNE team at

– See more at:

This summary of the Northern Maine Interprofessional Collaborative Practice (IPCP) Summit, held April 14, 2015, was written by Doug Wood, PhD, DO, dean of the University of New England (UNE) College of Osteopathic Medicine, Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH, vice president for Clinical Affairs and director of the Center for Health Innovation, focused on clinical IPE at UNE, and Shelley Cohen Konrad, PhD, LCSW, director of the Inteprofessional Education Collaborative (IPEC), focused on on-campus IPE at UNE . The authors are also the principal investigators for the UNE Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation grant, “From Campus Curriculum to Rural Community Health Centers: A Statewide Model of Osteopathic IPE.”