By Lois Harrison, Interprofessional Clinic Coordinator

Who doesn’t love the movie Field of Dreams? There are so many lessons we can learn from it … 

  1. Don’t be afraid to be innovative and have some “crazy” ideas.
  1. Building relationships and strengthening your community are important.
  1. When we follow our vision, it leads to purpose and fulfillment.

The quote in the title of this blog comes straight from the movie and embodies our dream of creating a dedicated interprofessional clinic space on Concordia’s campus to meet both the educational needs of our students, and unmet healthcare needs of our community. Well, we did build it and they are coming! The Interprofessional (IP) Clinic opened its doors in January. All of the current and future activities that will take place within it support Concordia’s mission of “helping students develop in mind, body, and spirit for service to Christ in the Church and the world.” It exemplifies the values we hold as a university … Christ-centered, truth/integrity, excellence, and service.  

This “innovative and crazy idea” has been over 25 years in the making. Physical Therapy (PT) and Occupational Therapy (OT) began providing pro bono services in our lower-level classrooms. This meant the faculty and students would remove all the desks/chairs, move the equipment around in the room, and then put everything back after each session. We found that this experiential learning format was valuable to the students and the community and started looking for physical space in the community. We were blessed to have had temporary space at Repairers of the Breach daytime homeless shelter, Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center, and Portal Inc. Then it was back to campus in the Concordia Center for Environmental Stewardship, Pharmacy building, once again down to the lower-level classrooms, and now finally in a dedicated clinic space. Whew! It’s been a long journey to be sure! 

Strength in numbers

The Interprofessional Clinic is certainly all about “building relationships and strengthening our community.”  The School of Health Professions (SHP) now has two clinics that will collaborate to provide services to the community and enhance the education of our students. The Speech Language and Hearing Clinic is adjacent to the new IP Clinic. Between the two clinic spaces, we can offer occupational and physical therapy, and speech, language and hearing services to children and adults.  

Together, these spaces are available for use by all SHP programs. In addition to the speech services provided 4 days per week, the occupational and physical therapy programs offer pro bono services to the community 2 days per week. In addition, diagnostic medical sonography, social work, physician assistant, and our rehabilitation science students may be involved in activities that utilize the clinic spaces. Specific spaces within the IP Clinic include … 

  • A large open gym space 
  • Private treatment/consultation rooms 
  • Simulated apartment 
  • Observation room 
  • State of the art simulation lab space 
  • Workspace for students 

We have followed our university’s vision and it has indeed led to “purpose and fulfillment.” The new clinic provides space that allows us to continue our efforts to educate all of our students to be effective interprofessional practitioners. Interprofessional education (IPE) occurs when two or more professions learn from, about and with each other. It is all about learning team-based care. Our medical and social care systems are so complex that we know that one discipline cannot provide the best care alone.  It takes a strong team to focus on the most effective care of future clients. 

A special alumni event

We are here to serve, and there are many underserved individuals in our community. These include those whose insurance no longer pays for services (as is often the case with rehab services), who don’t have any insurance at all, or who would simply benefit from additional services. Our goal is to continue our valuable collaborations with our community partners to enhance the quality of services they already provide, and work with them to help meet the unmet needs of our community.

To that end, we will be holding a special alumni event, “Creating Community Collaborations: A CUW Alumni Event” that will take place on Wed. Oct. 25, 5:30-7:30 p.m. At this event, we will provide tours of our clinic spaces, but it will also be a collaborative event where essential conversations can occur so we can hear from you what the unmet community needs are. So please save the date and consider joining us in October! Watch for additional blogs from each of the SHP programs that will come out next month to learn how each SHP program is currently, or will be, utilizing the IP Clinic spaces.

Want in?

The School of Health Professions at CUW offers a range of professional programs and degrees at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Whether you pursue your education through online instruction or through classroom learning, you can expect a distinctive learning environment that will prepare you for a career marked by excellence, compassion, and service. Health Professions undergraduate students also participate in the Concordia Core, a rigorous, liberal arts curriculum integrated with Lutheran distinctives.

Lois Harrison, PT, DPT, MS, is an associate professor and the Interprofessional Clinic Coordinator at Concordia University Wisconsin.