Nexus Leadership Blog: Clairvoyance or Good Mentoring?

By Barbara Brandt

My husband and I are downsizing our household, and I have been going through boxes and boxes of my papers from over the years. One in particular caught my attention: "Hypermedia: Planning for Time Three". I ran across this piece that I wrote for my mentor, Ron Cervero, in 1990. At the time, I had completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship focused on the role of emerging technologies and professional competence with Ron. Ron is now at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and we have reconnected around IPE after a number of years. And as he did in the late ‘80s, he is currently pushing my thinking about connecting interprofessional practice and education with expertise in health professional education in new ways. He is once again encouraging me to write and apply what I know to shape the future.

I cannot tell you how weird it is to look back at “what was I thinking” about computers back then and using them in professional practice. Some of what I wrote then seems quaint today – and some are the same issues in continuing education with which we are still grappling. Was it clairvoyance or good mentoring?

Looking back, I was writing about a new cutting-edge concept of “hypermedia” and projecting that someday physicians and others will have information at their fingertips to guide practice and decisions every hour of every day.  What was quaint then is now ubiquitous in practice today. I ask myself what it was that pushed my thinking at that time to anticipate what seemed to be “Star Wars” futuristic thinking back then yet is now taken for granted. It’s important for all of us to always be looking into that grand future while we tackle the day-to-day hurdles placed in our path. (And these hurdles sometimes seem endless!)

What does this have to do today with IPE? I believe that what we currently consider to be out-of-this-world ambitious ideas – e.g., common schedules, situational leadership, transprofessional decision-making and such – will become just as ubiquitous as the information in mobile devices. We are working hard to make that happen so that in 25 years, we will look back and realize that back in 2017 we seized upon today’s opportunities and overcame today’s obstacles and found innovative, elegant solutions.

Last year at the inaugural Nexus Summit, we introduced the concept of Conversation Cafés around the “thorny issues" in IPE; some would call them “wicked problems.” For those of us who have worked in IPE for years, we know that most of these challenges are decades-old and seemingly intractable for advancing the field. During 1.5 hour conversation sessions, we tee up four issues facilitated by IPE experts to make recommendations for innovative strategies to resolve.

Based upon what we learned, several efforts are really moving forward: examining pre-licensure accreditation, discussing how learning can be redesigned in clinical environments, and identifying issues about organizing interprofessional education in universities and colleges. Together, at the Nexus Summit this August and ongoing, we will come together to push forward bold thinking in visioning the future of IPE. We hope you can come! Registration information is available here.

“Learning must occur throughout the lifespan and must assume new and more complex forms. The plans to establish basic educational programs for those entering the professions were thought in the first quarter of [the 20th] century to be visionary, but they have been realized at levels far beyond those of the original dreams. Continuing education will follow the same pattern of growth; what we hardly dare prophesy today will be seen by later generations as efforts to achieve a manifest necessity.” Cyril O. Houle (1980). Continuing Learning in the Professions.