University of South Dakota to Lead Statewide Efforts for National Interprofessional Research Partnership

The National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education is pleased to announce that the University of South Dakota (USD) has joined the Nexus Innovation Network, a national research partnership testing new approaches to health care delivery and health professions education.

USD joins universities in 17 states working with the National Center to test new models and methods of integrating health care practice and education. Each project in the growing Nexus Innovation Network focuses on real-world testing of interprofessional strategies with the potential to improve the experience, outcomes and costs of health care.

Interprofessional health care is widely acknowledged as the next major advance in the improvement of health care delivery. Interprofessional care occurs when multiple health workers from different professional backgrounds blend their expertise to provide comprehensive health services to patients, families and communities.  

The concept is not new, but health systems, governmental agencies and educational institutions are beginning to look at how to fully implement it in practice and measure its outcomes on patient care.  Introducing and mastering interprofessionalism as a critical aspect of the health care industry is a challenge that necessitates careful planning and evaluation. 

In joining the Nexus Innovation Network, USD will serve as the hub for interprofessional research occurring throughout South Dakota. Partners from South Dakota State University, Dakota State University, Augustana University, Avera Health and Sanford Health will collaborate with USD on research projects and data collection through the South Dakota Interprofessional Practice & Education Collaborative (SD-IPEC).  South Dakota is currently the only state embarking on a genuine statewide effort to blend interprofessional practice into healthcare across an entire state.

“South Dakota provides us a unique opportunity to see the potential of a unified, statewide collaborative of higher education and health system partners working towards the shared goal of improved population health,” said Barbara F. Brandt, PhD, director, National Center for Interprofessional Practice and Education.  


A focus on collaborative education and community partnerships

Under the leadership of Carla Dieter, EdD, RN, professor and chair of nursing in USD’s Department of Nursing, the SD-IPEC will focus on collaborative education and practice partnerships to develop projects.   

One such project– the first sponsored by SD-IPEC –is a community health program offered by South Dakota State University’s Health & Nutritional Sciences Department and funded by a federal grant from the Department of Agriculture. The project, led by Jessica Meendering, blends the involvement of graduate students working collaboratively from a variety of fields– including counseling, dietetics, exercise science, journalism, nursing and public health– to address childhood obesity prevention. 

“By involving practice and education across the state, the SD-IPEC can coordinate efforts, minimize duplication and address the health care needs of South Dakota together,” said Dieter. “Partnering with the National Center allows us to tap into resources that will propel our work forward and contribute to data collection efforts. It is exciting to be part of this important national effort.” 


Additional project in progress

Continuing USD’s philosophy of embedding student opportunities in interprofessional learning into its health care curriculums, faculty from the department of nursing have already committed to leading an additional initiative involving advanced care planning. 

A collaboration with the nursing, social work, occupational therapy, medical lab science, medicine and health science departments at USD, the project will focus extensively on multidisciplinary components, student engagement and involvement with health care and community partners.  Avera Health, Sanford Health, long term care facilities, parish nurses, clergy members and experts in health care ethics will also participate.  

Current and future projects will submit data and results to the National Center for measurement against data from other Nexus Innovation Network sites and national and federal databases. Scientists at the National Center will then analyze information and share key findings through reports and peer-reviewed publications, increasing evidence on the effectiveness and return on investment of interprofessional models in developing the skills necessary for efficient health care. 


Click here to learn more about the work occurring throughout South Dakota and other Nexus Innovation Network sites.


About the South Dakota Interprofessional Practice & Education Collaborative (SD-IPEC)

The SD-IPEC is unique in that it not only engages multiple educational institutions, but also major health systems to collaborate on projects that benefit the people of South Dakota. Through the SD-IPEC, health care institutions are identifying areas that are important for contributing to the Triple Aim of enhancing the patient experience, improving population health and reducing cost.  While educational institutions are helping these efforts by leading or co-leading initiatives, involving students from multiple disciplines and testing interprofessional approaches to health care that blend the decision-making partnerships between teams of health and human service providers. Through these partnerships, the SD-IPEC is striving to connect education with practice to better serve patients, families and communities.

About the University of South Dakota
Founded in 1862, The University of South Dakota is designated as the only public liberal arts university in the state and is home to a comprehensive College of Arts and Sciences, School of Education, School of Health Sciences, the state's only School of Law, School of Medicine, the accredited Beacom School of Business and the College of Fine Arts. USD has an enrollment of more than 10,000 students taught by more than 400 faculty members.