The School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin has been featured in a new publication that documents the progress and promises of interprofessional education to deliver patient-centered primary care. The publication, by the Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC), highlights seven programs from across the United States that train medical students, residents, nurses, social workers, psychologists, and other health professionals to work together effectively as teams in patient-centered medical homes. Of the seven featured programs, the only housed at a school of social work is UT Austin’s. 

IPE class
One of the interprofessional education classes at UT Austin

The School of Social Work started its Integrated Behavioral Health (IBH) Scholars Program in 2012. This program provides stipends to master’s students to study culturally competent behavioral health interventions for use in integrated health care settings that provide care to underserved populations. Students take courses in interprofessional education and motivational interviewing in addition to the standard social work curriculum. They also complete field placements in community-based clinics that utilize an integrated health care approach and provide the students an opportunity to work as members of interdisciplinary teams. Learn more about interprofessional education at UT Austin here.

The PCPCC publication identifies common elements of the seven highlighted training programs such as dispersed team leadership, integration of behavioral health and a focus on patient-centered care that are integral to developing effective, interprofessional teams. Additionally, the seven programs share their learning journeys, some of the barriers they have encountered and challenges they have overcome. 

“The goal of the publication is to serve as a learning resource and to provide encouragement for health professionals who want to deliver better care at a lower cost, but aren’t sure of the steps forward,” said Barbara Brandt, director of the National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education. “Their peers provide guidance on the best approaches to developing and training a high-functioning team and more importantly, show that it’s possible.”